May
21
2008

  Failed Fillings!

I finally got around to scheduling a dentist appointment, and they wound up having a cancellation and seeing me today! I wasn't expecting that, but I was able to make the appointment.

I haven't been to a dentist in years. I've been trying to think back, it was probably 2005. My dentist then said there was a tooth that had a little decay and she recommended that I brush and floss it especially well and use a fluoride rinse on it, but if there was still decay the next time I came back in six months, she'd have to drill and fill. I did all those things, but wasn't taking any chances on getting a filling so I never went back for that follow-up visit.

Years pass, my teeth are fine. But just last week, while I was at Cindy's helping with her twins, one of my teeth hurt when I had a cold drink! My teeth NEVER hurt, so it really got my attention. It happened again the next day. It hasn't happened since, but then I guess I don't usually put ice in my drinks when I'm home. Anyway, with our dental insurance running out soon it prompted me to actually make an appointment.

I found a dentist right here in Crozet, and I wasn't expecting his office to be so modern. They took digital x-rays (I didn't know such a thing existed) which the hygienist said used less radiation than the film x-rays. And instead of making notations on a chart with the locations of my current fillings etc. they just took photos of each tooth for my records. They've got some software for dentists just for that, and a large flat-screen TV on the wall in the exam room, so when the dentist came in he was able to just point and click and show me what tooth he was talking about and what the problems are. Each tooth was about one foot tall on the screen, so it was very easy to see the detail.

It's so much better than when you'd have to hold a mirror in front of you and then they stick the mirror-on-a-stick into your mouth so you could see your tooth, and they'd point out the dark spots with their pick, all while you were still holding the mirror trying to see the reflection between all those tools.

The good news is that my teeth had very little plaque for not having been to a dentist in three years and usually only brushing 1x per day.

The bad news is that the filling in the tooth that hurt has "failed" and the tooth is rotting away beneath it, and I probably felt the pain because there is now a little crack on the side of my tooth so the cold could get inside. It was a filling I got as a kid, and the metal just corrodes over the years and needs to be replaced. And now there's a cavity in the tooth next to this as well.

Fortunately for me, while most of the tooth is toast, I'll be able to get by with a "3-sided" filling instead of a crown. I have one already on the other side of my mouth, from when half my tooth cracked and fell out soon after college. There wasn't any pain, it was inexplicable, but nevertheless they were able to use a "3-sided" filling to attach to what was left of my tooth so I could chew again.

I did a bit of research at that time and decided that gold was the best material for the job. Porcelain is popular, since it looks more like your real tooth, but it's less durable and subject to cracks. So I asked my dentist for gold, and he was all excited since he thought it was the best material for the job but he didn't bother suggesting it anymore since most people just want the porcelain, plus insurance doesn't pay 100% for the gold (I wound up paying an extra $25 out-of-pocket back then, with the current price of gold I expect it will be more now). I've had that in for over a decade now, and am very pleased with it. So I told my new dentist that I wanted a gold filling this time, too. He was fine with that decision. But it will take a little longer since they have to order it from the goldsmith-dentist in Richmond instead of make it in the office. So be it.

They'll call me again when they have a cancellation since I live nearby and work at home, it'll be quicker than booking me a regular appointment since they're booked up for weeks now.