Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Have a Dentist!

People who know me know that I have a near-phobia-level fear of dentistry. There are huge chunks of my life - years long - that have been dentist-free, and NOT because I have great teeth...

Well, I had a great dentist in California, but since we began our slow move to Costa Rica, I have only been a couple of times - and those were more in the first couple of years. So, it took losing a filling here to make a call, and find a new dentist. I was very lucky - Rick had already been to this guy, and he had kept his eye out for whether he would work for me too. I called about a week ago for an appointment, and since I had no pain, and also had school finals coming up, I was happy to wait a bit to see the dentist :-|.

Today, I walked (yes, walked! he's very close.) to the dentist. I spent about 15 minutes filling out new-patient forms, then an entire hour with the hygienist. She was very careful around the lost filling site, and watched for my signs indicating pain or a need to spit. She used both the electric cleaning thing (a symptom of my phobia, I guess - I can't remember what it's called), and manual scraping. Got a thorough cleaning and polish, followed by a fluoride treatment.

Then Dr. Jimenez came in and introduced himself. He listened to my fears (thankfully by now I know exactly what scares me, and what I need from a dentist to alleviate those fears). He explained exactly what he would do. He asked about any problems, did the exam, and gave me the choice of returning for the filling or doing it right then. I opted for the latter - do it while you have the courage, right?

Throughout the entire procedure, he did exactly what I needed, and explained as he went. He even avoided using the word "shot" (fear #1)! I got a triple-level of numbing - a topical, then a "dot" (eyes closed, so I don't know exactly what that entailed), then the final "numbing" (aka the afore-un-mentioned shot). I got x-rays in between the two final stages - and managed to dribble on the bib ;-S.

Between the first two numbing stages, he polished the edge off another filling that had a small chip. He was very careful to explain that I wouldn't feel any pain, and was surprised that the drill wasn't one of my fears. Something like 85% of people fear the drill and/or the sound of the drill.

On top of the hour of cleaning, I spent another hour with my new dentist. I am so happy to finally get back on a dental schedule! I told him - and I meant it - that he is the third dentist in my entire life that I trust. I know exactly who I will go to if I have a tooth problem!


Julie said...

Some specifics, as requested:
Dr. Jiménez is at Clinica Gil in San Pedro (also an office in Escazu, but not sure if he works there). Cleaning, exam, x-rays, and filling total $227. SP: 2283-0045, Escazu: 2288-6060.

Erin said...

I am absolutely terrified of the dentist. I went through a no-dentist period, too, and I had a panic attack making the appt when I finally had to go see one.
My last one (in the States) was awesome, but still had to drug me up just to get me in the door.
My point in all this is that I totally sympathize and congratulate you on your courage. :)

Julie said...

thanks Erin - it took a long time, a lot of drugs, and a lot of weaning off those drugs via earned trust. What helped me was finally finding out what exactly scared me, and *when!*
I hope your voyage will be as fruitful :-)

Erin said...

HI Julie! I'm revisiting this post because it is time for me to go to the dentist here in Costa Rica. :/ Do you mind emailing me the contact info for your gentle dentist?

Julie said...

Hi Erin - so many people asked about this, I added it as a comment above.
good luck!

Erin said...

ok I see it - thanks!