Let me share...
I had developed a strange kind of toothache over the weekend which got so bad that I had to find an on-duty pharmacy on Sunday to get some heavy-artillery painkillers. Despite having a natural aversion toward “all that stuff” I needed to get the pain under control. As a one of our doctor-friends told us many years ago: although pain is a warning signal that something is wrong it also makes the body produce a lot of “bad” chemicals; so, if you can avoid it, do so! To cut a long story short: the medicine worked within fifteen minutes of ingestion and I was more or less pain-free until yesterday afternoon when I managed to squeeze in a “friends-only” appointment with our dear dentist here in Sofia.
Initial examinations revealed...NOTHING. No cavities, no tangible infection! The pain, which by then had returned, was surely not a figment of my imagination, so, what to do?
A targeted intraoral X-ray to reveal what the bespectacled eyes could not detect seemed to be the right answer. If I went to the lab right away I’d be able to get it done immediately. However, I’d had enough manipulation for the day, and we decided to schedule the appointment as top-of the agenda item for today, more precisely 9am this morning.
I managed to get through the evening and night without too much of a problem and after a particularly early start this morning walked out of the lab within less than a quarter of an hour following my arrival. No waiting queues... every patient’s idea of paradise! Back on my dentist’s chair I was faced with another oddity: the X-ray revealed... nothing! There were puzzled looks all over – was I imagining my pain? Did I perhaps suffer from the Phantom Pain Syndrome? I can assure you that this was most certainly not the case!
Dr Bee, as I affectionately call her, went into a brainstorming session with her husband, Professor Bee, who, over the years, has quietly assumed the role as Assistant Orthodontic Surgeon, despite having a series of degrees in construction engineering. They eventually agreed that the only way to find out what was causing my pain was by way of elimination, in other words, making sure what it could NOT be until there was only one answer left! “We will have to check the vitality of Number Seven before we are sure that it is not Number Six that is causing the problem”, she told me with grave voice full of concern. I must have looked rather dumb, for she proceeded to pat me on the hand and continued “don’t worry, dear. We must do everything to save the tooth.”
That’s why we love our Dr Bee – genuine concern for her patient’s wellbeing! My facial expression must have been sufficiently wrought to prompt her into telling me that she had something special for the pain, something very natural and good. Her old Professor had told her all those years ago that it was the best thing to use against toothache. The Magic Potion? Oil of cloves! After treating me, which left me oh so heavenly pain-free, she proceeded to make a phone call. I just sat there, in The Hot Chair, staring out of the window into the misty grey winter sky, my attention caught by a pair of Blue Tits dancing and hopping from branch to branch in the leafless arms of the silvery birch tree that stood in the handkerchief-size bit of land between our block of flats and the neighbours’. Dr Bee’s voice started to fade into the background, along with Richard Clayderman’s gentle magic piano tunes, and I felt my eyelids become heavy...
“OK dear, I shall come with you!” The words pulled me back into reality with a jolt. I had briefly dozed off. Fancy falling asleep in your dentist’s chair... A first for me! I could go back to the hotel, have a rest and should return to her by 2pm. She would then take me to a colleague dentist, specialized in determining how much “vitality” –or life- was actually left in the suspected culprit-teeth. The appointment was made for 2:30. It had been agreed by common consent that this would be the only way to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones; teeth I mean.
I did as I was told, returned to the hotel, had a much-welcomed break with my better half, who by the way finds it most upsetting when he sees me in pain, and then returned to Dr Bee for the next stage of the investigation. Another quick treatment with the good old Oil of Cloves to keep me smiling and off we went to catch a bus down to see Dr Magdalena.
At the end of the day it was all sorted out. The Professional Duo jointly established that the culprit (Number Six, by the way) sat sniggering under a brilliantly built crown, courtesy of Dr Bee back in 2005. Somehow, with age (how I hate that word!) the gums had started to recede slightly, thereby leaving sufficient room between gum and crown for the tiniest, tiniest pinhole to worm its way through the dentine into the pulp area, causing what’s known in the professional world as “pulpitis” – an inflammation of the tooth pulp or nerve, resulting in the waves of drumming pain that had caused so much misery during my weekend. I should not worry, it was felt that this was the reversible form of pulpitis and with a bit of luck I would be able to keep my crown after some careful treatment under Dr Bee’s butterfly fingers. By far the best news I’d had that day!
When we stepped back outside, into the misty winter afternoon, Dr Bee affectionately slipped her arm through mine and together we strolled to our bus stop, a few hundred meters down the road. We chatted, and I even managed a feeble attempt at cracking a joke – I could smile again! Dr Bee kept reassuring me that I was going to be ok and that she would save that tooth at any cost. She’d treat Number Six first with a paste ensuring the infection would subside and after 36 hours or so I should return. If I’d had only minimal pain, or better still, no pain at all until then, BINGO, she’d be able to get to the next stage of her plan: reverse the pulpitis, rebuild the inside of the crown by treating it with some special medicine that helps the tooth build up new dentine. Everything would then be sealed with a magic dental sealant, all the way from Japan... and I would be as good as new, well, nearly.
Was I happy with this? No need to embroider here... I’m delighted.
No invasive treatment, no additional pain, no additional cost ... and an outcome that I could only have hoped for: teeth back into shipshape.
And , pray tell me: where in the world to you get taken by your dentist to see another dentist in order to make sure you only receive the very best of care...?
First: Do no harm!