The other day I was on the Facebook reading about the dental woes of my friend Sam. Sam has recently learned that she needs dental implants. Despite the fact that she has two kinds of dental insurance the implants will cost her $5,000 out of pocket. A real kick in the teeth, don’t you agree?
I once had four fillings start to break down. I needed crowns for all four teeth. I discovered this in November. In December during open season for insurance for federal employees, I signed up for dental insurance. In January, with the dental insurance in effect, I had the work done. The following November I canceled the insurance. I think I save something like $2,000.
As I was typing this insurance anecdote in a reply to Sam on the Facebook, one third of a veneer crown on one of my front teeth sheared off. I am not making this up.
The vaneer was about 30 years old so I am not complaining. In fact about ten years ago, the vaneer on my other front tooth fell off entirely as I was trying to pull the plug off the top of a water bottle on my ride home from work.
So I went to the dentist today. I was more than a little anxious about this because I’d have two people in my face for over 30 minutes during the procedure.
I pulled into the parking lot and it was empty. So far so good. I put my Washington Nationals mask (hand crafted by Mrs. Rootchopper) on and went in. The waiting area was empty. The receptionist used one of those Star Trek thermometers to check my forehead temperature. 98 degrees. Then she gave me a coronavirus quiz. It was a Yes or No test. My answers were: No. No. No. No. No.
Jackpot. The dentist will see you now.
I was shown back to an examination room by a technician wearing a mask and a hair covering. Along the way I passed several other examination rooms, all of which were empty.
The technician gave me a mouthwash to rinse with for 30 seconds. Then she took an x-ray and made a mold of my front teeth for use in making my temporary crown. After that she put a Q-tip with vile tasting numbing stuff onto my front gum. The dentist came in wearing two masks and gave me some novocaine. Ow. Ow, again. He then examined the mold and found it not to his liking so he made another.
Then the carpentry began. The rest of the old vaneer had to be removed. Then the tooth itself had to be shaved down to a fang to accept the crown. This took a good 20 minutes and involved lots of suction and fluids and noise. For this part the technician and the dentists wore face shields. I felt like I was in a science fiction movie.
The face shields and drilling made it hard to hear what they were saying. The dentist kept telling me to lower my jaw, even pushing my head down from time to time. I thought this was odd but in retrospect he was doing his best to keep me from spraying saliva and rinsing water all over the place.
Once the tooth was fanged he made another mold for the final crown. Then he put on a temporary crown and shaped it. He’s pretty good at this carpentry stuff, because ten hours later it feels like a real tooth.
The dentists picked some color samples out and we played matchy matchy with my other front tooth. My new crown won’t match exactly partly but it is made of zyrconium, a stronger material.
If I get covid from this dental visit it won’t be because the dentist didn’t do everything he could to be safe. Taking my temperature. The screening quiz. One patient at a time. Masks (in his case two). Face shields. Hair coverings. And that odd bit about keeping my jaw down.
I go back in two weeks.