The dentist showed up 45 minutes late. She had her assistant get me set up in the chair, then proceeded to have a royal meltdown, which was visible through the open door. She was crying and screaming at her 71-year-old mother (who is the receptionist and has said many times she doesn't want to work there - guess she's been guilted into it), accusing her of shoving $170 of food onto the floor, then jumping on a cake, of all things.
At that point I almost left. I should have left, but I thought to myself "I don't want to kick someone when they're obviously having a mental breakdown." Her mental state had gone wonky once or twice before, but it hadn't affected her work. Well, except that she had been going through dental assistants like water through a wet Kleenex. They were all incompetent, didn't know what they were doing, couldn't follow instructions. Same as, according to her, she couldn't work with her brother because he hated her, her parents hate her, the government is out to make her life hard, etc.
Plus, up until now, she had been pretty painless in her work, unlike the dentists of my youth. You don't want to give up on the first dentist in your life who doesn't hurt you.
She hadn't been like that a decade ago, when she opened her practice a few offices down from where I was working, so, needing a dentist, I figured why not her?
She came back half an hour later (she was working on another patient) and froze my upper jaw, then left again. By the time she came back and started working, the lidocaine had started to wear off, so more injections. Had to be done 4 times, which helps explain why I was unsteady on my feet after.
Part-way through, she needed a #303 root elevator to take out my upper left canine. So, 5 minutes of screaming at the assistant to find a #303 root elevator (why she didn't check to make sure it had been placed on the tray with the other instruments is beyond me - this is the third visit we've had to stop and play this particular game. She's not exactly the most organized person in the world, but like I said, I didn't want to give up on a dentist who didn't hurt me).
Besides, this was to be the last time I'd need local anesthesia. "No more dental surgery after tody!"
Finally, I reach the breaking point
She's sliced open the gums to have access to the bone holding the tooth in place, and drilled enough maxilliary bone away to be able to insert the root elevator, to "lift" or "torque" the tooth out rather than just pulling it. She had me looking left, then looking right, all the time exerting greater and greater force. She might have changed tools at one point to be able to apply so much pressure, because 13 days later my neck is still sore.
There's an incredible amount of pain, and I hear what sounds like walking on small gravel. That turned out to be a chunk of my fractured jaw bone grinding in place, still attached to the tooth, then being dragged over the part that wasn't fractured. This went on for a really painful minute or so. Then the tooth and the bone were pulled through the gum tissue, obviously doing a lot of damage on the way out.
The dentist goes into the front office shouting "She's going to need a bone graft. Who's going to pay for that?" (hint - not me, you can be damn sure of that! If she had stopped when she fractured the jaw, the tooth could have been supported in place and the jaw probably left to knit back together on its' own.)
Still can't eat anything except soup, and stuff that can be swallowed whole - the stitches are a b*tch.
Why the big deal about me taking my tooth and bone home?
After I was all sewed up and biting down on gauze, I started picking around on the tool tray to find that sucker! I was asking the assistant to wrap it in tissue so I could show it to my sister (because who would believe it otherwise) when the dentist came back and said to wait until the assistant had cleaned the tray, then left again, probably to work on someone else.
20 minutes later my sister texted me to say she was waiting in the parking lot waiting to drive me home (good thing too, with all that lidocaine making it hard to keep my balance). No sign of the dentist, so I get my 1-week follow-up appointment, take my tooth and say my goodbyes to the assistant and the receptionist, and leave.
The 1-1/2 hour visit has now taken more than twice that, and obviously I'm not finished being cut open :-(
At 8 pm, the receptionist calls back to say that I need to bring the tooth and bone back tomorrow because they want to send it out to a pathologist to find out why my bones are so soft (the dentist had complained on previous visits that my bones were very soft - I had told her before that I have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, and it was also on my chart. Like I said, not very organized). "No problem, I'll be there at 9:15 am."
At 10 pm, the dentist calls back all angry at ME! "You went behind my back and took that tooth! I got the full story from my assistant! Don't bother bringing it back!" WTF??? It's MY tooth and bone, and if she wanted to do tests on it, she had to get my consent first, which means informing me first. She hadn't said anything of the sort when she saw I had the tooth in my hand, and I had brought a previous tooth home, no problem. I didn't say anything, but afterward I was thinking "why is it my fault that I'm not a mind reader and where is the apology for breaking my jaw?" This is too too weird - and I'm used to weird stuff happening to me.
Either the test was necessary, in which case it's a medical error to cancel it in a fit of pique, or it isn't, so why order it? I decided than that it was a good thing I had taken it.
The silent treatment
I go for the 1-week checkup, wait an hour, the dentist never talks to me, never examines anything, just tells the receptionist to give me a requisition for a panoramic x-ray at the local clinic and that's it. No explanations, no renewal of the antibiotic prescription for the second week, nothing. Now I'm starting to get a bit pissed off.
Two days after the surgery I went to the emergency because I thought an infection might have set in. I told the doctor my worry, and that I had doubled up on the antibiotic that morning just in case. "Antibiotics don't work that way." He asks what I was on, so I showed him the bottle.
"This is a children's dose. You did the right thing doubling up. Keep on until they're gone, and I'll give you a prescription for a week at the proper dose." It's a good thing he did, because the dentist "forgot" the second week's prescription, and there was zero renewals after the first week - which is strange.
So I'm going for the panorama x-ray tomorrow, and back to the dentist to get a referral to a maxillo-facial surgeon to do the bone graft. Then I'll ask the surgeon to recommend a better dentist.
After all this mess, my sister looked her up on the internet. Wish I had thought of that. Check out the comments.
The one about not respecting patient privacy is accurate. Part-way through, she left to get the x-ray of the other patient, and insisted on showing it to me (cracked tooth, name of patient on x-ray). I wasn't interested, and besides, it's hard to see an x-ray with cataracts, etc.
In my opinion, she needs help. She also shouldn't be doing oral surgery without supervision, or maybe not at all. Infections of the jaw were often fatal before antibiotics. Screwing up the antibiotics, then not giving a complete course, put me at risk of some nasty sh*t. This mess was more painful than my root canal.
And now I'll have to have my mouth cut open again :-( Looks like I'll be eating mush for a while.