davidn: (skull)
Once again I slogged through positively Biblical floods (on a bus) this morning, this time for the unenviable destination of the dentist. I always say that I'm going to floss more when the ordeal of jabbing at the bases of my teeth with pickaxes is over, but then I always forget and the whole process is repeated the next time. The reason that I don't do it is that, having had too many teeth since I was 13, it always seems like more pain than it's worth to me - though I'm told that it gets less painful after about five days if you do it straight, and at the moment sticking some tape between your teeth seems like a complete holiday compared to the after-effects that my mouth is still feeling from the excavation.

I also made the mistake of mentioning to her that I had had a couple of mouth ulcers and had treated them by washing my mouth with bicarbonate of soda. She just said that "I'm sure there are people who do that", while obviously meaning "They're exceedingly strange". My mum's home remedies have always been treated with suspicion here as if they were the Elizabethan medicine of wearing a pig on your head and walking around your house backwards, but I was sure that it helped.
davidn: (skull)
I know that there was a point in my life when I didn't dread going to the dentist. I remember when it just entailed opening your mouth for it to be looked at by a nice lady, and then getting a Mr Men sticker for your bravery. Now it's more like visiting Dr Terrible's House of Pain, and one of the few things that are meant for the good of your health where I come out feeling significantly worse than I was when I went in.

This time the problem is I have what they called "pocketing", where my teeth no longer fit into my gums and there's more than 4 millimetres between the two of them. This causes a buildup of bacteria (which she was kind enough to show me a giant picture of under a microscope) and is also why flossing hurts such an incredible amount, as does the thorough cleaning that they do where they jam forks in between every single one of them. If I use floss regularly then it'll get better, but at the beginning it'll take a few days before it isn't painful - like learning the guitar. With my teeth.

Other than that I was relieved that there were no further problems that I would have to come back for - the dentist still wants me to get my wisdom teeth out, as I sort of let myself forget about that last year, and even if they don't hurt they may cause the loss of bones (if there is an argument against creationism then the design of the human mouth is it, because no creator who made all things bright and beautiful would have done such a poor schematic job on the dominant species to live among them). After swallowing so much of my own blood that I may now actually be a vampire, my teeth were polished to the American glow-in-the-dark standard and I was set free once more, feeling as though my mouth was a lot wider than when I arrived.

I took the opportunity to look round the Harvard Vanguard building that I used to work in while I was there (it's across the road), and took some awful photos on my camera phone - since we were last in that crumbling building it's been completely redecorated, with new carpets and wallpaper and a big address up on the wall. We never had a big address up on the wall when we were there. It's mildly distressing to see our suite having been taken over on a directory listing better than the few sheets of plastic nailed to the wall that we had, and the fourth floor looks almost pleasant. (Unhappily there's no sign of the plant that I hid there on our last day - they're all planted in metallic square things now.) After seeing all this sudden improvement since we moved out, though, I was very happy to see that the lifts are just as dreadfully life-threatening as ever. As you can tell from the presence of these photos, the door codes have also not been changed.

I visited Taipei Tokyo, too - I was quite relieved to see that it was still there, but it was almost completely deserted and there was a distinct absence of Sam, who was the first person in Davis Square to start recognizing me when I came in for lunch. Their buffet has also folded and been replaced with a set of lunch specials, so I'm now reversing the tooth-polishing process with some sashimi and their rubbish soy sauce.
davidn: (skull)
Have you any idea of the cost (with dental insurance) of getting your wisdom teeth out? It's $931. As if there weren't going to be enough painful extractions on that day. We have the bank balance to cover it easily (although it might shoot, stuff and hang over the mantelpiece any plans we had for a holiday later in the year), but it often seems that this country's government and health system has done nothing but rake more and more money out of me since I started applying to be allowed to set foot in it.

Now [livejournal.com profile] ethelfleda's comment on the last post becomes much more relevant, as I naively thought that having both medical and dental insurance would be enough to bring it down to a reasonable figure. However, despite the surprise cost, I am still leaning towards being convinced that there is good reason to have them out now, as Dr Fine's opinion was more along the lines of "Get it done here, go to the surgeon in MGH, wherever you like, but whatever you do, get them out". Apparently I could also wait until my entire head becomes infected and then claim it under the medical insurance, but I'd rather do this soon than risk them getting worse and having to endure even more physical pain than necessary.

Overall that visit to the dentist last week didn't go as well as I'd hoped.
davidn: (skull)
My first visit to what I had begun to mentally call the castle of Doctor Terrible took place this afternoon - I've opened a new entry tag to record the development of this new storyline that life has thrown at me. In reality it's a nice enough basement suite, clean and quiet and only slightly funeral-home-like. Dr Fine is a little older than I expected, but nice in a pushy sort of way (but everyone in Boston is pushy, so it averages out to just being nice).

After filling out the obligatory confusing mess of an insurance and consent form while listening to the gentle call of high-pitched drilling noises, I was led through to a dental-looking room where he asked if I was from New Jersey (apparently the accent is very similar) and poked around in my mouth a little. After that, he immediately said that we'd better 'relocate' and distractedly led me down the corridor. I was half-expecting to be taken to a small dungeon somewhere, but instead I was shown to a tiny room with an X-ray lightbox and desk.

The consultation that followed was calm but not fantastic. Essentially, my wisdom teeth are all partially impacted, infected, extruded or exploded, and from just taking one look in my mouth he was surprised that I wasn't in complete agony because of any one of them. To look on the bright side, not being in agony even though my wisdom teeth are having such a hard time is probably a good thing - we must be more resilient in Britain. Still, he made it clear that they had to come out as soon as possible to prevent future catastrophe, and that process would involve a considerable amount of pain and swelling. Apparently there's also the very, very rare possibility that removing wisdom teeth will sever a nerve running along the jaw, but apparently Massachusetts General Hospital are rather good at repairing those.

So I had to read through and sign an absolutely terrifying sheet saying that I understood the risks of surgery and the possible problems (because as he says, America has too many lawyers in it), and I've been sent home with a leaflet called "Impacted wisdom teeth" illustrated on the cover by a large and happy third molar at a crazy diagonal angle. Now I just have to wait for a phone call from somebody from the office so I can arrange to get them removed from my head, and I'm sitting at home on the sofa eating chocolate biscuits while I still can.
davidn: (skull)
I'm honestly trying to think up something entertaining to say about Tuesday morning, but I'm not coming up with anything to make it sound less hideous than it really was. After ages of trying to forget about it, I had finally made an appointment at the dentist - the first time at an American dentist and my first visit to any dentist since Reading Week in my last year of university just over two years ago.

They're nice enough about it. I had heard great things about this dentist (some of them verging on disturbingly enthusiastic, actually) and it was a less frightening experience than the dentist I used to go to in Scotland, but after two years of being blissfully unaware of any problems I might be having, throwing the following at me came as a shock.

The first thing they discovered, to cut a long story short, is that my mouth is the wrong shape. After irradiating my entire head with the 180-degree X-ray scanner thing and taking a first look inside my mouth, the hygienist's first comment was that I have unusual extra bones in my mouth. My last dentist never mentioned anything like that, so maybe it's normal there and we really are a different species in Britain. She also described the usual buildup of nasty things I have around my gums, but said that most people clean them to a lower standard than they do in America - refraining just short (as I'd been afraid of when I arrived) of mentioning my vampiric British teeth and how they weren't anywhere near artificial-looking enough to be American. Instead, she said we would just have to be "very thorough", bringing over a tray of things that looked like miniature hacksaws.

I don't think you've experienced true psychological torture until you've had to lie still with sharp things poking around in your mouth while the entire discography of the Spice Girls plays in the background. I was stuck there for at least half an hour while she went over my mouth with instruments of varying size and hideousness, and eventually finished off by rubbing a bit of what looked and felt like cheese wire between them all. After that had finished, the dentist came through to have another look at my freakish mouth - he was bursting with enthusiasm and was telling me about the time when his uncle was involved in a car chase, but I've never been quite sure what to do when dentists talk to you while your mouth is clamped open and you're strapped to a chair, only able to make vague dribbly noises in response to anything that's said.

I'm now told that dentists in America say this all the time, but I was told that it would be 100% recommended to have my wisdom teeth extracted. Even though I'm not feeling any pain from them at all at the moment, the trouble with them lies in my wrong-shaped mouth and half of most of them are actually growing into my skull. As a result of that, a couple of other teeth around the wrongly-pointed ones might become infected, and they already have a few holes in them that I'm going to have to get fixed next fortnight. A week before that, I'm going to see an oral surgeon about my wayward wisdom teeth, and if he decides they need to come out, I will need to schedule an appointment for skull-cutting surgery followed by a few days of excruciating pain in my calendar.

Teeth are so badly designed.

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