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Friday, November 13, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with Dentists

Dental Torture
My earliest memories of going to the Dentist are not fond, to say the least. His name was (and I will not be able to spell this...) Dr Fruehan, and he didn't believe in using Novocaine when doing fillings on little boys. I kid you not. How bad was it? I can still, all these years later, remember the pain. Now give all the credit in the world to my mother for actually taking myself and my brothers to the Dentist in the first place, but seriously, getting a filling without anything for pain is torture.

Switching Dentists
As I got older, we fortunately switched Dentists and it was off to Dr Allan Friedberg, who still practices is Scranton. This is where I discovered that...I kid you not...there was actually this magical stuff they could use called Novocaine that would dull the pain associated with dental work. My Lord, what a revelation! In going to Dr Friedberg all those years I will say that I never had a bad experience, so I hope that his practice is still thriving.

The Middle Years
When I graduated from college, I began an extended vacation from seeing the dentist. Mind you I did take good care of my teeth, but I was simply very fearful (despite the great work of Dr. Friedberg) so I put it off, and put it off, and put it off. Years went by and there didn't seem to be any consequences. My teeth didn't turn yellow or black and I didn't have any problems, so it all seemed to be okay. It wasn't.

Getting Older
About ten years ago I decided that I was too old to be afraid the Dentist anymore, so I made an appointment with the Doctor that my children were seeing. I won't mention a name this time, for reasons I will disclose in a moment. Anyway, after my first initial visit, it became clear that I had a molar on the top left that had a deep cavity in it, leaving me with few options. The decision was made to simply pull the tooth, and it was simply a horrible, horrible experience. While he did numb me (twice I might add), I seemed to feel EVERYTHING. It was a long, exceedingly painful, and very bloody affair. After that I was again afraid to go to the Dentist, but as luck would have it, I had a corner break off another tooth (same one as before but on the right side), so I called the Dentist who pulled the other tooth. He couldn't see me. I don't recall the reasons (as I was in real pain), but that left me with a need but no where to go. I almost called Dr Friedberg, but honestly I was too ashamed to call him, lest he see that my being a dental-baby for all these years had ruined his good work when I was a teenager. What did I do? I did what anyone in the baby-boom generation would (being born in 1964 I get to claim that mantra): I looked up "Dentists" in the phone book. For whatever reason I found the add for my current Dentist, Dr Charnitski, and made the call. His office made arrangements to see me immediately.

Dr C.
I think that my first appointment with Dr Charnitski was about seven years ago, and I've been seeing him for regular cleanings and other work ever since. Have I had some discomfort in the treatments I've received with Dr C? Sure I have, but three things really impress me about my current Dentist:

- He is brutally honest
- He does everything he can to make you feel comfortable
- He is very good at what he does

I am now something of a model dental patient: I brush several times a day, I floss daily and I get my six month cleaning like clock-work. One of the things that Dr C. helped me understand was the connection between dental health and my overall health. I even have a dental implant.

If there is a moral to this story it's this: Dentists provide a service. If you don't like the service you get, find another one. Dental care is far too important to let yourself be wigged out of seeing the Dentist simply because you had a bad experience or two.

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