“Do-be-do-be-do-be-do…” the woman serenaded with a flirty flair on the Jazz Station at the Dentist’s Office. She went on to sing smart and witty words as the ensemble played and all I can remember is “Don’t be a party pooper…do-be-do-be-do-be-do” and I believe that was how the “do-be-do’s” went.
And thus was the theme at my Dentist appointment today. Nahleen, don’t be a party pooper. Is the Dentist a party event? Om, no. But it can feel like a party when all goes well with your cleaning and you’re sent on your way. Doesn’t really happen with me these days now that I have multiple sclerosis and lupus.
When I was a kid it used to be that going to the Dentist for me was a breeze. I was a very lucky fortunate kid who didn’t have to have braces and I usually passed my Dental exams with flying colors. Yes, I always had to be the perfect student (still working on that but that’s another Blog for another day). Anyway, I’d get my little kiddie prizes (Where do they disappear to as adults? What prizes do we get? More toothpaste, toothbrush and probably a message to “floss more”? Hmm. Some prize.) and be on my way till 6 months passed and I’d go through it again. Only a few times did a big scary German lady (can’t help it, that’s my memory as a kid) get almost mean with me and accuse me of not flossing (“Yes I did! So there” the Kid Me would think.) and then show me with a mirror how much my gums were bleeding because she chose to be rough with me. Well, at least that’s what it felt like. And then I’d still get my prizes and be sent home only to have lingering justifications about my flossing the rest of the day (and apparently now since I’m still talking about it). Otherwise, it was pretty much smooth sailing. Even as I got older and my wisdom teeth grew in (ow), they grew in straight and grew in well and no one touched them. To this day I still have ALL 4 wisdom teeth. That has to mean I have a lot of wisdom. I just know it.
Now fast forward to being an adult at the Dentist, everything has pretty much gone well. Turns out I grind my teeth (Hmm, stress?) and I wear a night guard. Plus I have a hard time keeping up with the maintenance of those wisdom teeth way back there so I’ve been reminded again and again to be careful back there but any issues have gone away. Well they went away that is until a few years ago when I had only been diagnosed with MS (those were the days) and didn’t know yet about the lupus. I’m pretty sure I remember my Dentist noting that my gums were inflamed and red and that they did bleed and he didn’t know what to say about it. He didn’t think I had anything serious going on and I’m almost definite that he asked me something like, “Are you sure you don’t have lupus?” and I was like, “Yeah I’m sure. Nope, I don’t have it.” Well now wasn’t that interesting…
Then almost two years ago when I was diagnosed with lupus and I told my Dentist about the new diagnosis, he started looking at my gums and said that now it all made sense. My gums were swollen and inflamed because I had lupus and I was having a flare. Plus, I found out that these gum and mouth symptoms are not just signs of lupus BUT they can also happen FROM the medications I’m on and specifically the ones I take for a lupus treatment. Well isn’t that GREAT. Awesome. Gotta love that the medications that are supposed to help you in some ways can harm you in others. Happens to me all the time. So he told me I probably have the symptom of “dry mouth” (can’t think of the official name right now) and that he’d recommend I use the toothpaste Biotene which is used for dry mouth and hopefully that would help. I’m still using that to this day actually. Thank goodness for those types of options now. And then he thought my teeth were getting worn down in the back of my mouth so he prescribed a dental toothpaste called Prevident to help with that and help strengthen my teeth. I was not happy I’d need a doctor prescribed toothpaste let me tell ya. I had no idea it existed and here I go again. More stuff to add to the regimen. Well, after I got over that next idea of what I thought a burden was (not so much a year later) I found it actually did help and my Dentist/Hygenist started becoming happier with how my teeth and gums looked in general. Well yay! Go me.
And finally getting to today the appointment went well. I don’t like to go now that I have issues and am not even close to perfect (Geez.) and because physically with lupus and MS it’s hard to hold my jaw open for that long and it starts to shake. Plus it might get stuck being open and it hurts. If my gums are inflamed then that’s no fun either. I’ve learned I have to speak up to the Hygenist/Dentist as much as possible about what’s going on with me to help alleviate any mental/physical discomfort. Turns out I had a new Hygenist after having the same one for at least a couple of years and I was like, “Well great. How will this one be? Will she be another scary German lady? I guess now I’m gonna have to go over ALL OF MY HEALTH HISTORY AGAIN with someone else…” I was only Ms. Grumpy Pants for just a bit about it because the new Hygenist was very sweet, charming and tried really hard to make me as comfortable as possible after I talked to her about everything. Plus when I had to do x-rays (Ack! So hard not to gag!) she was quick and tried to do a mini guided imagery with me, “OK. Now breathe through your nose. It’s only gonna be a few seconds. You’re in Hawaii right now.” That idea of being in Hawaii with x-ray thingies in my mouth didn’t really relax me but the idea that she was trying was very sweet. And then we travelled to “x-ray Bahamas” and “x-ray Italy”. Plus she joked a lot (She and I had heard the flirty crooning woman sing “Don’t Be a Party Pooper and had quite a giggle about it. Don’t recommend giggling with dental utensils in your mouth by the way.)and kept telling me to take a break if I needed to. And no she didn’t shove a mirror in my face to show me what I had supposedly done wrong. She was compassionate about it all. And then to top it off she really started my party going by saying I was doing an “Amazing job” working on my gum and teeth maintenance and that everything looked really good. So yay me! Woo hoo! Time to party! Good news!
AND THEN the Dentist came in to do my exam. He’s a funny guy. Pretty jokey himself. Quite a jokey office now that I think about it. Anyway, he too has lupus but the skin kind (can’t think of the name of it) and thinks of lupus every time he sees me. Weird to have that connection. He looked at my x-rays and really studied one slide I couldn’t see (Gawd!) and then told the Hygenist to make a “Note” at “17 blah-blah-blah (you know, teeth and dental talk)” and just to make a “Note”. Uh oh. Red flag. But then I forgot the red flag because he was worried I might have some weird thing going on with what I thought were just mega-chapped lips and that was another foreign word name and I got distracted and suddenly my party was deflating…there goes the balloon fizzling out of air. I think the Dentist saw I was getting worried and quickly said not to worry and to just keep an eye on my lips and we’d go from there. He really didn’t think it was a big issue. Really. Seriously. It was okay. (Now that I think about it, what did I really look like for him to try to cheer me up so much?). So when he left I remembered I didn’t ask about tooth number “17” and the Hygenist said that it was my lower bottom wisdom tooth (cue dramatic movie music) that might be forming a cavity and that they were just going to keep an eye on it. Oh. Great. So nothing to worry about now but maybe for the future.
That sounds about right doesn’t it? Not only does that sound like what I go through all the time when it comes to MS and lupus but isn’t that what life is? That idea of perhaps something might be a problem in the future is very scary. I go through the process of letting go of that fear all the time. However, it still bothered me. I’ll be honest. Yeah, I’m okay. Everything is okay just for today. I think the real point is what that savvy woman sang to me (and only me because I rate) “Don’t Be a Party Pooper”. I can still have a party because I’m me. I can still have a party because both the Hygenist and Dentist didn’t see any real issues to address now. I got to leave without having to add anymore medications to my daily regimen (and let me tell you there are more than enough), I didn’t need to schedule an appointment to fill a cavity, my teeth got cleaned (and I’m so grateful for dental benefits right now) and I heard what was really a very silly jazz song that I will now leave you with:
“Don’t Be a Party Pooper. Do-be-do-be-do-be-do…”