This morning, I went to the border between San Jose and Cupertino to visit a new dentist that I found on ZocDoc who could actually squeeze me in with very little notice. My face pain had subsided slightly–so the lightning bolt pain was not as much of a thing and my gum was less irritable, but I still had the aching–that was handled with Ibuprofen. I took a Lyft over and talked to the driver about my experiences with TFA. I always have great conversations with Lyft drivers.
We got to the office, and I could kind of tell that this was the less affluent part of the Bay Area–as far west as I’ve been since coming out here. The office was in the very back of this sprawling office complex that came up right to a mall. There are lots of malls out here–more than Denver, for sure. They’re literally all over the place.
The nice man dropped me off, and I noticed the office was up a flight of steep, scary stairs–so I wasn’t exactly happy about that since my balance is a little off from the ear weirdness and I’m scared of small heights. I can jump off of a bridge, nbd, but climbing some steps where I can see down below when I look down? Kinda terrifying. The first thing I thought? That’s going to maim someone if it snows. But then–oh, wait–it doesn’t snow here. You’re not in Colorado anymore, Alma.
When I walked in, the receptionist greeted me and took my insurance info while I filled out the last bit of paperwork–which was far more extensive than any other dentist’s paperwork I’ve encountered. Like full work-up of mental and physical everything.
The receptionist, I think, might have been the dentist’s mom. She was warm and sweet, but very hard to understand. She had the TV up loud, and I listened to news about horrible Bay Bridge traffic–which essentially meant nothing to me. I did see an accident on the way over. The receptionist lady starts checking with my insurance company about coverage and also tells me to make myself comfy as the doctor and the hygienist hadn’t shown up yet. I was early. No big. I was the only patient there too.
The doctor arrived about 10 minutes before my appointment and the hygienist followed soon after. Both of them were very introverted and sweet. The dentist was Muslim–from Iran maybe–and the hygienist was from Vietnam. I knew instantly, and I felt so much better just being in both of their presence.
I explained the issues. The dentists tapped around and asked if anything hurt. She took her time, really looking at things. Both of them checked in often–asking if I was okay. I appreciated how attentive they were. My dentist decided the pano wasn’t detailed enough to show her the issues, and the other xrays were from before the work was done, so she asked if I would be okay with an xray–no charge. Okay–sure. She looked at saw that–yes–my oral surgeon was right. I needed a new filling. She also thought my lower molar filling was high and needed to be polished since it was messing with my bite–and that might be causing the aching. It could also be from the wisdom tooth, but neither showed any signs of infection. And it might also be from the filling that needed replacing.
She was worried that my insurance would balk about paying for this filling again since they’d just paid a week ago for it to be fixed. Since my normal dentist was out, and his replacement booked till May, I had to do what I had to do. She proceeded to file down and polish the bottom molar while her Mom checked on my filling. They wouldn’t cover it, but they would only charge me 50% less of their normal charge (which was $100 cheaper than my normal dentist to begin with), and I could do a payment plan if needed. I didn’t need it and was good with that. I appreciated that they were aware that dental stuff is expensive, and they didn’t just act like I had to do it. Like my other dentist.
So, she went in–scraped out the filling, cleaned everything out–asked if my other dentist had put any medicine in to bulk things up since it was so close to the nerve (nope)–then explained that she was going to look to see if decay was happening and then would add the medicine. It would probably give me a better chance at avoiding a root canal. There was decay–from the space being left by the other dentist–so she cleaned that out and showed me that it was now clean–then put in the medicine and then explained that I was bleeding quite a lot–so she didn’t want to put a permanent filling in today. She explained that even a drop of saliva or blood could cause a permanent filling to slip out before it was set, and she didn’t want me to go through that bs. So she’d put a temporary in today and then put the permanent one in next week. If I had any pain that was more than mild sensitivity, I was to call and come right in.
My mouth felt so much better–even though it was fairly numb up top. The bottom molar ached far less, my ear was better, no more shoulder or arm pain. Relief. There is some achy feeling, but she explained that I might experience that–and that it was normal–probably due to the trauma of the filling being off–and also the trauma of composites shifting–but would calm down once the nerve was less cranky. If it didn’t–she would look at it again. She also gave me instructions not to eat on that side today and to not drink anything for a couple hours.
Overall, I really loved this dentist. I like my other dentist, but I think maybe the tooth was a bit more complicated than what he bargained for–and since he squeezed me in–he wasn’t able to be as thorough. I loved that these folks were really there for me–not distracted by 100 patients. I think I may just keep her as my dentist. There’s no lemon water in the lobby, and she’s not dreamy like my other dentist, but my face feels a lot better and I trust her more.
I do have some aching from the bottom molar, but again–I feel way better. Although I am kinda grumpy that my other dentist got paid for sub-par work. I’m not sure if I’m going to complain though.
I’m just happy to not have a heating pad strapped to my face.