Visiting the dentist

By Kay Conklin - Contributing columnist

Yesterday, I had a capped tooth break off, so now I have to make an appointment to see my dentist and have him look at it to see what needs to be done.

Dental appointments have always seemed to be something no one wants to make. I know I used to be like that, because so many of the people I knew had complained about the pain they had, or were scared of the pain they were sure they would have.

As a kid, my dental appointments all came after major damage had been done, and I would need extensive work by the dentist. I remember my dad telling the dentist to “go ahead and pull the tooth out, because it will have to come out, sooner or later, anyway.” So, by the young age of about 12, I had had several teeth extracted. But when the day came and I was out of high school and working, and had my own paycheck, I started going to a dentist for check-ups. My dental appointments were my responsibility, and they slowed down the loss of any more of my teeth that may have needed work done on them.

I remember when I was in school, a lot of my friends had to have braces. I felt a little left out, because I didn’t get to have them, too. (I didn’t need them because my teeth were straight.) How lucky for me, and at the same time, how stupid I was for wishing I was one of the gang who had braces. That goes for glasses as well. I didn’t need glasses, but all my friends were getting them and I felt a little left out there, too.

Eventually, I ended up with the dentist I have now and have been going there every six months for the past 20 years. He has never once mentioned the word “braces.” So, I never did get to have those braces I wanted so badly. But the day came when he started talking about a partial. How was that going to work? I found out a lot about how they worked when I had to have a second partial, as well. Now I find myself at the place where I have a broken capped tooth and have to have a consultation. What is he going to say? Is there any hope of saving it? Will a new cap be made to replace the tooth that is practically all gone? I don’t want to try to second guess what it will be, so I will have to wait and see.

One thing I do know is that when I was much younger and would see any elderly lady come out from having some type of work done by the dentist, I felt sorry for her. I assumed that she was in a lot of pain and any treatment would have been horrible for her, especially if she was frail. But now that I am older than most of those elderly ladies were then, I have been fortunate to never have been in much pain. I still remember the day I took my mother to a dentist to have the remainder of her upper teeth extracted. This was her last step before being ready for dentures. She was only in her mid-50s at that time. What I remember is that she never complained. She never was a person to complain anyway, but going through what she did, would be grounds for complaining, if there ever was one.

Since it was late in the afternoon when we got back home, I was wondering what we were going to do about supper, because at that time there were six of us in the house to be fed. But she went right to the kitchen, put on her apron and had supper on the table as soon as our dad got home from work. No one would ever guess what she had been through just a couple of hours earlier. Sitting here now, with a large part of one of my teeth in a small plastic container on my desk, is nothing like what she went through. As I pick up the container and take a closer look at the piece of tooth with the cap, I see that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that it could be glued back in place. But, as I look a little bit closer, I guess for that to happen, my dentist would have to be a magician.

Paying dental bills is usually a big problem for someone who has no dental insurance. And in some situations, people who have insurance find that they are still having to pay a large part of the bill, since some dental insurances don’t seem to pay very much. Once I figured out that since I didn’t have dental insurance during my earlier years, I have spent in excess of $7,000 of my own money on dental bills. How much in excess, I don’t even want to know. Ironically, not too long ago, when George and I were having lunch with a friend and were talking about our teeth, the friend said to me that I should just have all my teeth pulled out and get it over with. I don’t want to do that. Not after all the money I have already spent for my past care. So, I’m ready for the news, good or bad. Knowing that after the consultation, I will probably have to wait a period of time before it can be taken care of, means I won’t get to have it done until after this article is sent to the newspaper. So, I will hold the thought that whatever the diagnosis turns out to be, it will be a good one. Wish me luck!

By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.