Last Wednesday, July 19th, 2017, I was enjoying a leisurely breakfast of a mushroom, onion, and cheese omelet, toast with butter, and black coffee, when it happened.
My number four tooth broke off at the gum line.
Number 4 was capped and had an internal post to support it, but evidently that wasn't enough. I'd undergone a root canal on number 4, so there wasn't any pain involved, but losing a tooth in the middle of an otherwise idyllic breakfast creates a certain mental anguish that, I would imagine, is comparable to the same feeling that good Christian parents get when their 13 year old daughter announces her plans to wed the teenage biker living down the block - the one who rides his Harley past your bedroom window at 3:30 AM with open pipes, and has various tattoos covering his body. Fortunately for me, I'd already consumed most of my breakfast.
I fired up the old PC, brought up Google maps and looked for a nearby dentist. Sure enough, I found a half-dozen or more, and picked one based on the man's last name: Kurtz. I phoned the office, and the nice clerical worker who answered the phone Oh-My'd over my story and got me an appointment for 9:30 that morning. Good deal, thinks I. Just enough time to shower and shave, then it's a ten minute drive to the Chops Doctor, and he'll do his stuff. Nothing could be easier, right? Wrong!
You see, I have a critical case of odontophobia. Fear of the dentist. It starts when I know I'm going to have to go to the dentist, and ends very abruptly when I pay the bill. My old dentist back in Sylvania used a rifle loaded with tranquilizer darts labeled CAUTION! FOR LARGE ANIMAL USE ONLY! He'd give me a good running start in the parking lot, and I'd wake up in his waiting room staring at an invoice. This would be Dr. Robert Morrison, an excellent dentist and a real humanitarian. He introduced me to Xanax and taught me relaxation exercises, and pretty soon I was doing just fine. He was a great guy, but he's no longer with us.
So I took two milligrams (mg) of the generic equivalent, which is lorazepam, and headed over to see Dr. Kurtz. But Doctor Kurtz isn't there. There are four ladies and one preadolescent female child behind the desk, and no one in the waiting room. The child is practicing ballet movements, and she isn't very good. One girl gives me the standard questionnaire to fill out, in which they ask a bunch of questions that are none of their business, and which I fill out as best I can, then it's off to see the wizard.
An oriental lady who neglects to introduce herself instructs me to sit in the chair, then takes a short look at my chops. This is followed by an x-ray, which is no real surprise. Then she tells me that good old number four will have to come out. I can barely understand this woman, so when she offers to pull it herself, I opt for an oral surgeon. What I'm really wondering is why the place is so vacant, why Dr. Kurtz isn't around, and why the staff won't answer any questions about him. They mumble and change the subject whenever his name comes up. The refer me to an oral surgeon in the next village, present me with a bill ($105.00), and send me on my way. They tell me that I am supposed to call and make the appointment with the specified oral surgeon; they don't do that kind of thing.
Just as well. I return home, fire up the PC and search for oral surgeons. I find over a dozen, which is no surprise. Then I heat up the buzz box. That's when I discover, surprise-surprise, that the vast majority of office staff are condescending, snippy, and obstructive. I called five offices and got the same response for each one, with a few variants on the amount and quality of condescension and with resolute, obstinate obstruction. One young girl finally told me to have my dentist call, and I'd get a better appointment time. I tried that, and the staff either didn't call, or didn't know what to do - one is as likely as the other.
I finally called the East Columbus Oral Surgery Specialists and hit pay dirt. They could get me in on Friday morning (as opposed to the middle of August, which was the best I was getting elsewhere), they understood my concern, and Dr. Von Kaenel would treat me right.
And he did.
I was able to register on line. The staff had time to call my radiologist and confirm that there wouldn't be any problems with the upper set of chops, which radiation therapy will cause, and were ready for me when I strolled in. Doctor Douglas A. Von Kaenel, DDS, is a nice guy. I'd let him park his feet under my dinner table anytime, and his staff are equally nice and polite. A steady stream of patients were in and out of the place while I was there, and the phone was ringing regularly. The Doc examines me briefly, then sits down and has a talk with me, explaining about radiation therapy and my chops, but also just chewing the fat. After a few minutes, he offers to do the extraction today. He's got one quick surgery, then he can pull old number 4 and I'll be off down the road. I agree, and stipulate that he give me nitrous oxide which he readily agrees to, and offers to crank it all the way up. Hot socks!
I swallow another Xanax and get comfortable in the waiting room, so by the time the Doc is ready for me, I'm feeling pretty relaxed. I've been told that 2 mg of Xanax is a large dose, but I've taken three and even four mg on occasion, and it only relaxes me. My system is resistant, you see. Main Lady used to tell me that it's because I'm used to operating normally while in an impaired state. Well, she might be right about that.
I'm shown into the business room about 2:00 PM. At 2:30, I'm shaking off the affects of the laughing gas and thanking the good doctor and his staff for a job well done. There was no pain, no anxiety, and no problems at all. And if that isn't enough, the Doctor cut his fee back because I am a cash customer. And not just a little, either. I'm talking significance.
My verdict? The dentist I went to see is:
Dr. To (pronounced Toe, as in 'your big toe')
1709 Brice Rd, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
I have a great deal of trouble understanding her, and the place wasn't crowded. Dr. To might be a perfectly good dentist, but the communication problems bother me. Also, her staff could use a few lessons in courteous, compassionate, human behavior. In short, I won't be back, nor will I recommend her to my friends and family.
My oral surgeon of choice is:
Douglas A. Von Kaenel, DDS
6555 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43213
East Columbus Oral Surgery Specialists
The man is good at his job. His staff is helpful, friendly, and courteous. I'd recommend Dr. Von Kaenel without the slightest hesitation to anyone in need of an oral surgeon.
It's about 7:30. I've just finished dinner - canned Ravioli and a chocolate milkshake, and I feel just fine. No pain at all.