Tuesday, 20 December 2016

First dentist visit: Root canal therapy

Today, I went for my appointment at the dentist. 

The teeth in the X-ray image are mine
I was only there for 45 minutes, but in that time, I filled out some forms, got my teeth X-rayed, and got a root canal procedure done. It all cost 114 euros. 

A poster on the wall behind the reception desk. 
When I got to the dentist's office, the dentist's assistant got me to fill out a 2-page form with some questions about medical history. The second page had some questions relating to dental hygiene and habits, like "do you grind or grit your teeth often?", "do you notice any cracking sound or pain when you open your mouth?", "do you have trouble chewing?", "Do you use a soft, medium or hard bristle toothbrush","How often do you change your toothbrush?", "Do you brush your teeth in the morning/noon/night?".

They also had questions about whether I'm happy with how my teeth look. One of the questions was "if you could change something about your smile, what would you change?" 
I guess those last few questions help make the patient more mentally prepared to spend money on the aesthetic dental treatments. 

After filling out the form, I was taken by the assistant to have my teeth X-rayed. There was this big machine I stood at, and it went around my head, scanning an X-ray image.

See the black hook-like thing right in the middle of the photo? You bite down on that while the mobile white parts rotate around your head and do the scanning.

Then I lay down in the dental chair and the dentist asked me what I thought I needed. So I just told him that he'll see the hole and he'd know what to do. 

He took one look at it and went "Ohhhh. That's deep. Does it hurt?" Luckily for me, it doesn't hurt yet. Unless i'm chewing something and it gets right in the hole. Then it hurts. Or if it's really cold. 

Well, he said that a root canal treatment would be necessary. I'll write about what that is in another post. I'm still finding out more about it. All I found out about it before meeting with the dentist is that there are people who think that it's not good for your health. But there are also proponents of root canal treatment, so it's not very easy to decide. 

I asked the dentist if it would hurt, and he said that it wouldn't thanks to the anesthesia, so we went ahead with it. It didn't hurt, and only took about 15 minutes. He drilled away the parts of my teeth that were bad, remove the pulp and the nerves, then he filled the tooth with gutta-percha, which is a rigid natural latext made from the sap of the gutta-percha tree. I'll go into the details in a different post. Fun fact, the word gutta-percha come from the Malay name for it, "getah perca" which  translates as "Percha sap". 

The doctor showing me the scans of my teeth (left, after the treatment. Right, before)

I circled the hole for you in red

The dentist told me that I'd have to come back to get a crown put on because I deserve it, because otherwise this filling will get loose and come off. He said that the assistant would give me a quotation for the crown and that I could setup the next appointment with her. 

I took the opportunity to ask the dentist if my teeth were okay, and he said that they were, apart from this one really bad tooth. That was good to hear, because I'm kinda sure that at one point during the procedure, I overheard him saying to his assistant "His teeth are really in a state". I guess I must have misheard, and he must have been saying "tooth" and not "teeth". I hope. 

The assistant printed out a quotation for the tooth filling procedure that I'd have to come for next time. Here it is:

1,148 Euros!
That's a lot of money to get a hole filled. Gosh. So I'm just gonna check with my insurance that they cover this kind of stuff. Otherwise, you know, what's one missing tooth right. 

All in all, today's trip to the dentist went exactly like in the movies. I got there, sat in his chair, he drilled my hole and filled it with some white stuff. And he wants me to come back so he can fill it with something harder. 

Definitely gonna take much better care of my teeth now though! 


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