April 10, 2009

Where the hell are my teeth???

Technically they are currently residing in a pill bottle in my bag after having 5 of them removed last night. Yep, after a few weeks of misery I finally went through with it and had teeth removed. Now this is my first time, so I can not compare the event to one in the US, however I am attempting to explain how it worked here in NZ. For the purpose of time and energy (I am a bit tired today) I will omit anything regarding insurance info, etc.

For this to work I have to start a few weeks back. I was having tooth pain and one of my teeth cracked (don't ask). Anyway it was a pretty annoying, throbbing kind of pain that got worse and worse. Finally I broke down over the weekend and called Dentist #1 at Symes Desilva. As it turns out there are a few Dental places that are open on weekends, but this was the one I could get an appointment with in an emergency and wasn't ridiculously priced. That day I was brought in and advised that 4 wisdom teeth and the broken tooth had to come out. I was then advised of the price, at which point I laughed (hard to do with a mouth full of cotton and tools), went home and decided to see if insurance would cover this. As a side note, Symes De Silva was very efficient, and very good. The bedside manner was a little lacking, but what do you expect for the price and timing? The final price was about $90. Not too bad in an emergency.

I had then decided I should seek out alternative options in the " knock me out and get this thing out of my head category", since Symes De Silva only does pills and locals(not enough for me), and I was still waiting on insurance.

I then headed to Dentist #2 - The Gentle Dental (no website just contact #'s) for a 2nd checkup and got my 2nd opinion verified plus full X-Rays and a referral for about $100; also not bad. If you do go here, don't let the building or front office fool you (it doesn't look that posh), they are very good, have a great chair-side manner and are very helpful. The dentist even went over all of the particulars with the digital X-Rays, so there were no guesses involved.

Afterwards, I found out that insurance does in fact cover at least some of the operation if:
a) it is NEEDED
b) it is performed by an oral surgeon
c) you are fully unconscious

OK that last one wasn't so much an insurance requirement as a Darren requirement.

Next Stop? Oral Surgeon. Wayne Gillingham of Wellington Oral Surgery Ltd was very good, very efficient (if not a little too fast) and knew what he was doing. Though he spoke and worked very quickly (I felt a little rushed) I was very comfortable and relaxed as he explained both the good and possible bad points of the operation. I was advised at this point that I could be FULLY UNCONSCIOUS. Woohooo! I walked away nervous but happy to have it finally on its way and for only $200 (which insurance will cover a large portion of, thankfully).

The final stop was yesterday afternoon's trip to Boulcott Hospital at 3:00pm for a 5 part tooth extraction. Big Fun! Was I nervous? Yes. Was I hungry/thirsty? yes (nothing to eat or drink after 7:30am), was I drugged? Hell yes! After going over the paperwork and telling Dawn I loved her I was taken to the operating room, where the best IV I have ever had ( I literally felt NOTHING and that was pre-drugs) was put in, we talked for a few minutes and then I was out cold.

I woke up with what was described to me as short term amnesia, having no idea where I was or how I got there for a few minutes. My brain began functioning in its semi-normal state and all was well. I was returned to my room and loving wife to pass out intermittently for a few hours.
They gave me my teeth, took out the IV, walked me through the plethora of drugs I could take to dull the pain and swelling and called for our friend Mike to come get us. (Thanks again bro!)
My teeth were given to me in a pill container (which I apparently, though, have know memory of doing), shook them at Dawn just to gross her out. Yep even drugged out I am a sick bastard.

So... now it is the next day not quite 24 hours since I went under the knife. I am a bit swollen and eating soft foods, but feeling much better. The slight pain I feel now I know will get a little worse but will still be better that then agonizing pain I was going through, so that's nice. Hoping all will be well for Tuesday when I go back to my students. Oh yes... I am teaching now, but that will be for my next post to explain. Check out the ice-pack/head gear I get to wear - very sexy.

In the end I learned not be afraid of Dentists, they are not all bad and do a shit job for a decent amount of money (like lawyers, only without the tails and horns ... hehehe). Thanks for reading and hope it helps some of you. Drop me a line if you have any questions or want referrals to anything.

[Editor's note: the surgery and surgeon consultation costs were covered under the general surgery clause of the private insurance I receive through my employer. We have not opted for dental insurance, and even private health insurance is relatively rare in New Zealand. -dawn]


joes_love said...

sounds about the same as US except here you can't keep your teeth b/c they consider them bio hazardous materials. and I didn't get the head gear, i was just told to use frozen bags of food.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Glad you're on the mend! I had a cracked tooth once that ended up requiring a root canal, but only with local. The place I go is VERY expensive, but they're good and everyone speaks English, which isn't always the case with the cheaper dentists in Auckland, or our part of it, anyway. I've had private health insurance (Southern Cross) for over ten years now, and it covers the same situation you, um, faced. I've still never filed a claim.

Glad it all went well!

Marrisa said...

OMG! Poor you - and I sympathise a million times over as I know how much the Dentist freaks me out too. You are very brave! Poor Dawn, hope you havent been playing the 'dying man' thing too much. Get better soon buddy xxxx