Open Wide and Don’t Say ‘Biscuit’

I had a check up at the dentist yesterday. He couldn’t see any obvious problems but thought I needed a scale and polish. This might not sound particularly newsworthy, but going to the dentist isn’t a straightforward process when you’ve got a body that’s in constant motion.

My dentist specialises in community care. This means he sees people who have additional needs that might make accessing dental care more difficult than usual. He’s understanding, friendly and in my opinion incredibly brave. I don’t imagine there are many people who’d be willing to put their fingers in my mouth while I snap my teeth and shout about biscuits.

But however courageous my dentist is, he’s never actually done much more than visually inspect my teeth. It was decided a while ago that for any actual treatment, even anything minor, I’d need to be sedated. This happens at my local dental hospital where there’s a dedicated special care team.

I wrote about my last trip to see the hospital dental team nearly two years ago. On that occasion they tried to sedate me using nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The experience was far from funny and the dentist and I were in complete agreement that next time I needed treatment they’d do it differently and sedate me intravenously.

The other complication with my dental care is that it’s difficult to work out if there are any problems with my teeth that need treating. Dentists normally rely on x-ray to see what’s happening beneath the surface of the teeth and gums, but staying still enough for this is impossible for me.

The upshot of my appointment yesterday is that I’ll be re-referred back to the hospital team so that my teeth can be scaled and the x-ray issue can be discussed in more detail.

It’s likely it’ll be a couple of months before I’m seen. To speed this process up in the future my community dentist’s going to suggest the hospital manages all my care from now on.

I think this is because he knows it’d be a much simpler and more efficient way for my dental care to be managed, and not just because he’s worried about getting his fingers bitten off.

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