Thursday, August 26, 2010

Care for a root? (Canal!)

The good news, was that I finally got an appointment with the dentist.

That was also the bad news.

My regular readers will know I’ve had a bit of a run-in with anxiety and depression in the past. Part of my irrational response to stress has been to grit and grind my teeth, Marge Simpson style. Rather a lot actually.
(Apparently, hurting ones' self releases endorphins to make you feel better. Not that it actually worked!)

I would literally try and crack my teeth, even though I knew it was stupid, painful, and would make matters worse. (And that was just in my waking hours; while unconscious my teeth went mental. Apparently)..

And so it was that I managed to crack several of my teeth, even though I’ve always taken impeccable care with them (apart from the grinding and gritting. Obviously.)

I had tried mouth guards and retainers in the past, but I managed to grind my way through them in a matter of weeks rather than the months they were supposed to last.

(Also? Wearing mouthguards/retainers at night? So not sexy. Not at all).

So on my last visit to my usual dentist, she cautioned that if I had any more problems with a few particularly troublesome teeth I may have to consider a, gasp, root canal.

Words that would strike fear into the hearts of our bravest men and women, not to mention, er, me.

I mean most Aussie sheilas love the idea of a root, until you add canal to the scenario!

For a while, I tried to ignore the ache and swelling on the right side of my face.

Every time I ate or drink something cold or hot, or just for no damn reasons at all, my teeth and jaw would ache.

Anyway, the pain got so bad that I eventually sought the help of a specialist.

And all I have to say is those three little words: Best. Dentist. Ever.

Now, if you’re a celebrity or pretty well-heeled, none of this will be particularly new to you.

I’ve only ever gone to a very nice, but basic dental surgery. Good dentists, but no frills.

But this time I was seeing Dr Craig Duval at the Designer Dental Studio in Brisbane.

The only way I can explain it is that it’s like flying in cattle class instead of being upgraded to the pointy end of the plane, where drinks, food, blankies and smiles are de rigueur.

On entering the clinic, I’m immediately offered a cold glass of filtered water. Which I drink, despite the fact that I already have sensitive teeth, because I am thirsty. And a bit nervous. And it’s something to do.

There is also a decent coffee machine in the waiting room, as well as hot chocolate, fresh muffins, sugar-free sweets, and the latest magazines. (No decades-old, well-thumbed, out of print magazines here).  

But being anal, I like to keep my teeth ‘nice’ before I see a dentist, so I stick to the water.

Before I even get to the fiction section, I’m led into the torture chamber, er, consultation room. And surprise, surprise, it’s pretty nice.

The chair is like the Mother Of All Dental Chairs. Although I’m halfway upside down, I’m strangely comfortable, and find myself relaxing despite myself as I watch a seahorse give birth on the roof.

Okay, I need to qualify here: I am not on drugs. No seriously, I'm not! There is a TV screen on the ceiling, showing a wonderful underwater documentary, which together with the meditational music, almost lulls me into sleep.

Then Dr Duval comes in, and spoils it. Erm, I mean, he does an exam and an x-ray, and delivers the fatal news: I need a root canal.

He momentarily swaps the seahorse show for an x-ray of my teeth. Sure enough, one is just about touching the nerve, and the good news? I haven’t developed an abscess yet.

He advises having the root removed, waiting a few weeks while a special patch kills any nasty bacteria, and then hopefully finishing the root canal.

Now, I’ve been told for years that root canals are awful. Horrific. One friend told me she’d rather give birth again than endure another root canal.

So I was scared.

Dreadfully, wussfully scared. (OK, I just made that word 'wussfully' up, but it describes my feelings perfectly).

But Dr Duval and his lovely smiley assistant are so quick and gentle, the procedure is seemingly over in minutes. (Or maybe that was because of the seahorse effect! I also practised the focussed breathing I use in Mindfulness.)

The needles were injected effortlessly, quickly, and almost painlessly. The only pain was fleeting, nothing at all like I’m used to. The drilling, though horrid, was pretty much painless and mercifully quick. And it took much less time than my last filling. (Unless that was also the Seahorse Effect?)

Dr Duval’s assistant (and I’m sorry, I have forgotten her name so focussed on the actual, you know, root canal, as I was) was so sweet, continually patting my shoulder, reminding me to take deep breaths, and telling me I was doing well.

Kind of like I do to my kids when they’re having something nasty but necessary done.

And I’ll be honest: I’m 42, but it’s still nice to be patted on the shoulder and told you are doing okay.

I’m pretty sure I have a dental emotional age of about 5, but the caring staff didn't make me feel silly at all.

Recently, I returned for the second half of the toothy journey. It was a different assistant this time, but she was just as lovely, gently patting me, massaging my shoulders and reminding me to breathe deeply.

(Yes, I’ve already admitted I’m a wuss!)

This time the ceiling DVD was not quite as soothing. There were desert scenes, which were fine, all gently moving wildflowers and shifting sands. And then there were scenes of dingos eating an animal carcass and the bones of a long deceased beast in the red dirt.

But hey, it was all over pretty quickly and reasonably painlessly.

On my way out, I visited the loo (sorry for the oveshare but OMG!! It was just like the bathrooms in the pointy end of the plane but better. Along with a selection of perfumes and aftershaves, there were moisturing crèmes, toothpastes, floss, and individually-wrapped colourful toothbrushes.)


As far as I know my visit didn’t cost any more than a normal orthodontist, but the experience was so nice – as nice as a visit to the dentist could be – that I will happily recommend them to others. (As long as they don’t get too popular that I can never get an appointment …)
IF You Go: Designer Dental Studios, Calamvale, Qld.
Corner of Kameruka Street and Beaudesert Roads.
Phone 07 3711 4999

A selection of sugar-free lollies and iced water

The coffee/water area
The bathroom and loads of toothy goodies


Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

Your a lot stronger then me I wont go any where near a dentist.

Haven't been to one since I was 12 so like 28 or something years ago.

I pull my own teeth out if the need pulling out & if a have hole in my tooth it stays there till the tooth falls out.

I really really really really hate them.

Unknown said...

Oh poor you! Yes, I had a terrible experience as a child. It was a country dentist who drilled and filled absolutely everything, regardless of whether it was necessary. I've since been told by several dentists that most of it was unnecessary, but I guess in those days, country dentists didn't get a lot of visitors so they had to make a living. It was all without anaesthetic too, and I remember being held down while he drilled my teeth. So year, I'm scared of dentists too, but these guys really were wonderful and I highly recommend them.

Jack McClane said...

I am in serious need of getting my wisdoms out. Was told 13 years ago they need to come out. Still haven't done it. Can't justify the cost!

That being said, a visit to Calamvale may just be on the cards.

Except I want a Bruce Willis movie playing on the TV. Drill Hard, I mean Die Hard to Armageddon. As in, if it hurts anymore armageddon out of here.

Nice post, Bronnie! :)


Unknown said...

Thanks Jack. Actually, I am pretty sure you can take your own DVD to put in the player so you can watch it on the roof. And as I said, these guys are so quick compared to normal dentists, you'll probably be complaining that it was over all too soon xo

Thea said...

This post is so funny!
My childhood experience of dentists...just like yours! The noise, the pain. Imagine! Drilling into the teeth of CHILDREN without anesthetic!!!
Love the sound of the new dentist...I'm almost convinced to go again. :)

Anonymous said...

I hadn't been to your blog for a while and it was so lovely reading your posts. I must visit here more often!

I am a dental phobe. A very bad one. I do have a lovely dentist, similar to what you had there - it makes a difference, but still doesn't stop me needing valium and happy gas! Glad u enjoyed your root (canal) ;)

River said...

My only problem with dental work is the cost.
My teeth aren't in good condition, I've inherited my mum's weak enamel, and her tendency to get sudden unexplained abscesses. Out of the blue I'd have throbbing pain so bad I'd be smacking my head and eating aspirins by the boxful until the dentist was open.
So I've had quite a few root canals done, about 8. I've also had several lower back teeth extracted as a child, because that's what our town dentist did.
Most of my root canals were done by a regular dentist, not an orthodontist, so each one was done over 4-5 visits, with each temporary filling being replaced several times before a final permanent filling was put in. I'm sure this contributed to the enormous cost.
Your visit sounds so much better than any of my experiences.

life in a pink fibro said...

Um, I don't think Fibrotown offers anything as glam as your dentist. Dr Duval? Did they send him over from central casting for the Rom Com lead role? If you have to have root canal, he sounds like the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Yes yes yes - this is exactly like the dentist I used to go to in North Sydney - and I have never found another as good or welcoming or calming.....(I say with tingly teeth already twelve months overdue for root canal)

The Greenwood Dental Centre had all those things - video in the ceiling, fish tanks, calming music and aromatherapy - along with someone to hold your hand and tell you you're doing great.

I miss it!!!!! But the time has come - am off to my first South African dentist next week, I keep asking around for the best ones - I keep being told they've all emigrated to Australia.