Category Archives: Dental


This morning I head up to the Stress lab for a stress test. All this is due to the funny heart flutters I had a while back.

I still have occasional flutters but, aside from noticing, the funny feeling, they do not provoke a lot of concern on my part. I guess I will see if they are significant or just passing flutters.

So they are going to stress my heart this morning. Maybe yesterday holding crying squirming fighting children while trying to do fillings would have been a better stress test than walking on a tread mill in calm surroundings.

Ah, well. I guess my stresses would be difficult to duplicate in a lab.

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Not an ideal way to work up an appetite – have a crying 7 year old puke in your hand just before lunch.

I think motherhood has made me immune to the effects of such events but I almost lost my assistant. We decided to try again another day. Maybe sedation will calm him a bit.

Sure hope so.

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This afternoon, I was at my office where I have a spot in the basement – my private office – sort of. It is really our lab but we don’t do a lot of actual lab work. I have a desk in there; there are no windows and no one in the office to distract me from my writing. I was getting deep into the writing of my paper: Mystical and Ecstatic Experiences in Christian Spirituality when I heard my dentist partner coming in the back door. Maybe he wondered who was in the office since I had driven my daughter’s car there instead of my own.

Nope – He was responding to the call of one of our patients whose foster daughter had had a skating accident a few minutes before.

Amazingly, Roger just returned from a course on endodontic emergencies. He began telling me about a new technique that could be used with teeth broken just at the root level in young people so that the root would remain in place preserving the bone for future restoration.

Wouldn’t you know it, this amazingly calm, sweet and cooperative child had broken her tooth off just where the enamel of the crown joined the root. He got to try out the new technique and I, since I was there at the office anyway, was able to assist him. Next week we will take the broken crown of that tooth and I will attach it to an orthodontic wire so that she will no longer be toothless.

One of those interruptions in my day that make life as a dentist so rewarding. And I am just about finished my paper too. Tomorrow should finish it – unless I have a new interruption to distract me.

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Glad it is Friday

Here I am, catching my breath between a molar root canal and a wisdom tooth extraction. The next patient is waiting to feel less anxious – thanks to medication.

I am glad that it is Friday. And thinking that some medication would be in order for the headache which I have just given myself time to notice. Maybe I have drunk too much coffee this morning already.

Have to squeeze a visit up to the hospital into my already full schedule today too – a sweet little girl awaits a feeding obturator.

And now, back up to work!

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This morning was a tough morning for me. So tonight I guess it is not too surprising that I feel mostly like a limp vegetable. Vegging out – maybe that is what it means.

I was in the OR today – all day. There are always extra stresses doing treatment under time pressure. There is so much to do and we have given an estimate of how much time we think we will need so that we can reasonably get all our cases done in the time available. We try to estimate accurately but there are always surprises. Time consuming surprises.

The first case took about 3 hours instead of 2.

The patient was mentally challenged, a teen now. We have seen her for several years in our office, needing to do work for her under general anesthesia every couple of years. This year was not good. I suppose she doesn’t like to have her teeth brushed and likely her diet contains a lot of sugars. At least from the look of her teeth. I understand the difficulties of her caregivers but sometimes an easy diet or not insisting on simple hygiene habits can be devastating.

Her teeth were soft. 14 fillings and 5 extractions soft. The 5 teeth extracted were slated to have fillings only a few months ago. It is a long time since I have tried to do fillings on teeth where there was no line of demarcation between healthy enamel and decaying enamel. So the fillings just kind of went around, from one side to the other.

I don’t know if I did anything good for her or not. Oh, yes, for a few months the teeth I filled will be intact. But then what? I don’t usually feel hopeless, I don’t usually feel as if everything I am doing is for nothing, but that is how I felt this morning. I don’t like to think about what it will be like the next time I see her. She is only 15.

Sometimes what I do seems like such a tiny drop in the bucket.

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Filed under Dealing with stuff, Dental

Approaching Advent

Sheesh, this has been a busy week so far. And we are only half way through.

Yesterday, had too many difficult extractions. I was tired by the end of my work day but my day was no way near finished. Had errands to run. Then music practice. Advent begins on Sunday so we were practicing some carols.

We also have our family advent program on Sunday night. That means that I need to do some baking on the weekend. As well as practicing what I am contributing. I think I will be playing “Let All Mortal Flesh Be Silent” on the recorder and if I can get my act together maybe something on my bass, besides singing with a group of women – the old women. Well some of them are younger than me. And it good to have a group of “younger women” that will be singing too. I wonder if the really older women are doing something? Maybe they could do some cane and walker tapping to “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”.

Now we are less than one month to Christmas. It seems a bit like being at the high spot on a roller coaster ride and we are about to begin a crazy ride down to the big day – which for my family seems to be Christmas Eve.

Maybe it is good that the busyness will sort of come to an end by Christmas morning. Maybe that day I will find some solitude to sit and contemplate the magnitude of the gift we were given by God.

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Fear is so debilitating

I spent my day in the OR. Three long cases. It is good to get these big cases done but it is a long and tiring way to do dentistry. In my opinion.

It is understandable to need to do very small children this way. We sometimes don’t have a lot of sympathy for the parents who in many cases have neglected their child’s health. It is easier not to brush a toddler’ s teeth than to struggle with them to get it done. It is easier to give the child candy or juice than to say no and have to deal with a tantrum. But it leads to a child that suffers in the long run.
It is harder to have to do a teenage child this way. It is hard to be patient with a child this age who is terrified. It has to be harder to be the parent of a child acting out when they should be a beautiful teen with a beautiful smile.

Today I paced outside the OR praying the teen would calm down and let the anesthetist do his work – so I could do my work – so she would not be in pain any more. It takes a lot of fear to need such pain to drive such a terrified child to accept help. And it makes me wonder if we will see the person again or if it will take another horrible episode of pain to bring her back.

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