Monday, September 14, 2009

Dental Irony and Some Bling

I have me some bling in my mouth! That's right: I have a gold tooth now. Well, a gold cap on my tooth anyway.

Today's dental visit was actually funny. I was sitting in the chair and Michele was cleaning off the old cement from the temporary crown I've had for six weeks. Christina had just cleaned my teeth and gums, so my mouth was already tender. My drilled-down molars didn't want to give up the old cement without twinges of pain.

I don't like pain.

Michele kept at it, asking me if I was all right--which I was. She wasn't hurting me. My teeth were.

They play this great radio station in the dentist office, one of those whose playlist is mostly 80s & 90s music, with the occasional 70s song mixed in. About the fifth time my molar protested, my brain tuned in to the song playing in the background: Boy George singing, "Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?"

I like dental irony.

If you know me, you know I used to loathe going to the dentist. No one actually likes it, right? I took it to the extreme: I had panic attacks. That led to years without any dental visits, which led to gross teeth and poor dental health. Brushing only gets so much of the gunk.

I found a nice dentist two summers ago that I liked well enough. I went in because I had an infected tooth that had swelled my check so that I looked weird. And it hurt. After the tooth was pulled and the gum healed, I made another appointment to start the long road to improved dental hygiene. Except they had fired the nice dentist. I wasn't impressed with the dentist who took my case. So I didn't go back.

This past spring, when I broke a molar, I did the whole call-around-and-find-a-dentist thing. Again. I called a place in Lorton where they sounded nice, but they didn't have the equipment necessary to fix my tooth. They referred me to Dr. Griffin at Reflection Dental in Alexandria, Virginia. "Is he nice?" I asked the stranger on the phone. She assured me he is very nice.

If you live around here, go see Dr. Griffin. He takes time with his patients, without being rude to other waiting patients. He has a sure but gentle touch, and he explains everything before it happens. He even took the time to help me figure out how to adjust the volume on my IPod. (If any of the work you need to have done involves a drill, take your IPod. It will help with the noise.)

Here's the thing: it isn't just the dentist that's so great about this dental practice. It's everyone I've met.

When I made my appointment and told Nikki in the office that I was a wimp in the dental chair, she assured me everything would be fine. When I got lost trying to get to that first appointment, Nikki gave me directions (several times) over the phone, never once sounding impatient.

Christina took my diseased gums, cleaned them, explained the therapy, and encouraged me when I called the office concerned that the antibiotic had come out of my gums. "I've never heard of that happening before," she said. I guess I'd forgotten to tell her that I'm always the patient that weird stuff happens to. Christina has been more than an excellent periodontist; she's my gum-care cheerleader. I actually floss every day! That fact alone should speak volumes for Christina's skill.

Michele assisted Dr. Griffin with the first broken molar, took excellent x-rays, and generally made me feel important and comfortable. She's soft-spoken and cheerful, personable and professional all at once. When I told her I was going to blog about my visit today, she had me write down the blog address on a PostIt. (Hi, Michele!) Then she told Dr. Griffin I was going to blog about them. Talk about making me feel significant, I tell you: that truly did.

After my first exam and x-rays, Marquita (I hope I spelled that correctly) sat down with me and went over the extended financial plan, what the insurance would and wouldn't cover, how much my part would be, and all those other details that can be uncomfortable to talk about. Since May, I've had three crowns, one filling, and two cleanings with gum therapy. I maxed out my dental coverage for the year after my second visit. But thanks to Marquita's clear financial explanations, Reflection Dental's patience, and my husband's brilliant budgeting, I got my bling! And my teeth don't hurt anymore.

I need two more fillings and ongoing periodontal care, and every bit of it will happen at Reflection Dental West End. If you need a dentist (and trust me, if you don't see a dentist regularly, you need a dentist!), call them. Tell them Candi sent you.

Maybe you'll get some dental bling, too!


Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

I have a good friend with a gold tooth, and my children think it's the coolest thing. They've ask the dentist of they can have one, too.


Cherie said...

Hey I just stopped by from Jennifer's blog and wanted to say hi. I too have a sorted dental history... ick! But I've forged a love/hate relationship with the amazing dentist who works very hard not to hurt me. Thanks for the ipod tip. I'm definately going to try that next time!