I Lost a Couple of Years Off My Life Today
Blood pressure rising above 160/95, pulse rapid, breathing short and shallow…. If my patient had only listened to me three years earlier….
That was me with the high blood pressure late one afternoon this week. No. I wasn’t in the dental chair myself. I was working with a patient who was in my dental chair. I was riding the emotions of my patient while extracting a tooth that never should have needed to be pulled.
I felt bad for the patient. Who wants to have a tooth pulled? I know that I am compassionate. I know that I do all that I can to keep my patients as comfortable as possible. And yet the simple anxieties of having a tooth pulled make the event almost unbearable for the patient.
In this case, as in all similar cases, I gave my patient ample amounts of gentle numbing anesthetic. I confirm after a bit that the patient is indeed numb. I do this by literally poking around the tooth. If the patient doesn’t feel the poke, then he is numb. I begin to wiggle the tooth with my tools.
Here is the problem. I don’t care how numb you are, when the tooth lifts out for the first time you feel a big change in pressure. That is the moment with this patient where my life expectancy was decreased.
I get it. It is very scary when you feel that pressure change and you anticipate further pain. Well, this patient freaked out. That is OK, except when my patients have fear and anxiety, I feel their anxiety and my blood pressure skyrockets too!
Well, the extraction was completed after a rollercoaster ride that included more Nitrous, a Xanax and a big comfort blanket to combat the patient’s anxiety attacks and escalation in her blood pressure. It was a difficult extraction in a difficult to reach place. The tooth was fractured and the roots were crazy curved. A couple of years off my patient’s life to pull a tooth that never should have needed to be pulled.
This particular case was upsetting to me and the patient for another reason as well. He had been advised three years earlier that there was a cavity in the tooth that, if addressed soon, would only need a simple filling. I was frustrated, disappointed and confounded
all rolled into one.
I am not sure what is going on today. But, we have more patients than ever in our practice that choose to put off the preventive, affordable dental care that we suggest. We strive to save our patients money, time and discomfort by taking care of cavities when they are still manageable.
The patient in this article refused treatment for three years. The tooth was so decayed that I could not save it, at any cost. He and I had to go through a horrible visit together, each of us feeling the strain and stress.
I am struggling to understand why this “put it off until it gets worse” health mentality is more evident now than ever before. A filling is about $250.00; left untreated that cavity will become a $1200.00 root canal, $350.00 filling and $1250.00 crown on average. Left longer, like this case, you lose the tooth. You can replace it with an implant and crown for about $4000.00.
So, if you have outstanding preventive treatment to be completed in our practice please schedule to let us take care of you. We are here to save you money while we try to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime. If you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for me. I cannot handle many more extraction rides like the one this week. It certainly should have been avoided.