Sunday, 13 January 2008

Teeth and freedom

I needed to have some urgent work done on the choppers recently. I bit into something a bit too vigously and found myself crunchy on three bits of broken tooth. I think what happened is that many years ago, I had an amalgam filling put into that tooth, and the dentist only left a bit of a sliver of tooth on the outside of the filling. 25 years later, the filling and bit of leftover tooth parted company.

It didn't hurt. I suffered no toothache, but I wanted to have it fixed quick smart in case I did. Nothing worse than a bit of toothache.

I had two choices.

Go to my normal dentist in Mosman, and pay $1,500 (again) to witness an amazing bit of tooth making technology in action, or:

Go to a local dentist, and pay $200 to have some goo slapped over the hole.

I chose the latter option, mainly because of the difficulties that I have with parking at the new location of my very expensive dentist, and I didn't really want to drive back from Mosman after a morning on the gas.

I love the fact that I have a choice. If I paid $1,500, I would have luxuriated in an amazing waiting room, complete with an enormous fishtank and very comfortable lounges. I would have been tended to by some excellent staff, and I would have been treated by a dentist that never jabs me in the nerve when he sticks the needle in. He also would have stuck a fibre optic camera in my mouth and shown me in great detail the problem with my tooth, and explained what he was going to do, and then taken a 3D snapshot of it, fed that into a CAD-CAM machine and had it grind me a plug of porcelein that would fit beautifully into the hole. And the colour would match that of the rest of my teeth.

I still would have walked out a nervous, sweating wreck, but I would not feel that I had wasted $1,500.

But I still gave the local quack a go. She learned how to pull teeth in NZ, which is probably a good thing (unless she practiced on whethers) and the waiting room was clean and well appointed (but not luxurious). Parking was not a problem.

But she did stick the needle into my nerve, causing me to partly freak out, and when I asked for gas, she gave me a wee trickle and then didn't take it away. What I wanted was a huge hit of gas at the start - enough to make me want to have a needle - and then no gas at all. Half an hour on gas gave me heart palpitations and a very horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The filling did the trick, but it looks like a bit of Tippex blobbed onto carbon paper. Thankfully, it is in a tooth up the back of my mouth, so no one is likely to notice (except for my old dentist, if I ever go back to him).

The wonderful thing is that my health fund paid for half of it, whereas if I went to Mosman guy, I would have been out of pocket $1,400.

And instead of being half freaked out by Mosman-guy, I was totally freaked out by Drummoyne-gal. I almost drove into the Bay on the way home - I was that wired.

Still, I made my choice, and I'm not unhappy with it in the end. But at least I had a choice. That to me is as important as being toothache free.

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