Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Friday, July 11, 2008



I have not had good luck with dentists since I was a kid. Growing up, I had a second-cousin (or third- or something, I never remember exactly how those things work; he was my grandfather’s cousin, I think, so whatever that makes him) who had a dental practice a couple of towns over and he took care of my teeth for years. Which was nice, because we had stuff to make small-talk about and I knew what he was like drunk, which goes a long way in building confidence with one’s dental care provider.

Once I left Ohio, though, it became a little trickier to find a good dentist. Well, actually, in my twenties, it became trickier to get dental care without insurance. So there were long stretches where the only cleaning my teeth got was from Crest and elbow-grease.

I eventually found a dentist in Seattle who was okay, even though I’d never seen him drunk. Not great, but okay. Actually, if I recall correctly, he seemed a little younger than me, which was slightly unnerving.

Since we moved to New York, the situation’s gotten even worse. There’s a dental office in nearly every big building in the city and I haven’t been able to find one yet about whom I’ve felt good. The last guy I went to seemed to be trying to set the land-speed record for cleanings. I was basically in and out of the chair in about fifteen minutes. Which is nice, in a way, but also doesn’t make you think he’s taking the best care of you possible. This was confirmed when I had him do a filling and he left me with a bruise on my cheek that lasted two weeks. (Not sure how the bruise happened. He may have been leaning on me with his elbow, but I’m not certain.)

Because of that, I’ve gone without dental care for the last three years. I mean, it just seems like such a crap suit that I figured I’d rather deal with the slow and inevitable decay than the hassle of picking a dentist.

In the end, common sense and my wife won out and I threw a dart at the names on my insurance company’s site. Which is how I wound up at a dental office this morning. Here are the highlights:
  • Maury playing on the waiting room TV. Not a good sign.
  • Made to wait twenty minutes before someone realized I should fill out the New Patient forms.
  • X-ray plates that you have to bite on (as always) nearly made me puke as I tried desperately to repress my gag reflex.
  • New hygienist, apparently on her first day there, hadn’t set up the room, meaning further waiting.
  • Paper bib was taped (let me repeat that: taped) to my shirt because, apparently, they couldn’t find the chain.
  • Dentist tried to sell me on a hundred-dollar-a-pop Periochip TM treatment for “depressed gums” or something along those lines.
  • Dentist had bad breath. Can you truly trust a dentist with bad breath?

So now I have to go back to have a filling replaced, after which I’m going to try to find someone new. But how the hell do you do that? It’s like finding a decent mechanic. It’s hit or miss. I could keep my eyes open as I walk around town for a dental office that looks like it doesn’t suck. I could save up money until I can afford one of the dentists in New York Magazine’s Top Doctors issue. Word of mouth would be good, but my friends and I don’t usually sit around talking about our dentists.

Or I could just resign myself to gumming my pizza for the rest of my life. Which is starting to look like not that bad an option.

Nobody you know can recommend their dentist? I'd recommend mine, he's awesome, but yeah...quite a drive for a dentist appointment.
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