I’m trying to decide how to best deal with a very bad experience I just had with a dental emergency in Evanston. I woke up last Tuesday with half my face swollen. Part of that is my fault. I knew I had a cavity on my molar, and no, I didn’t get it taken care of. My old practice told me I needed to have a crown done. It was more than I could afford, so I put it off longer than I should have. Fine. I get that. Anyway, I called an office and got one of their same-day emergency dental appointments and went down thinking I could take care of it then and there. Well, that’s when I learned that I had let it go too long, and that I’d need to have a root canal too. The lady gave me the rate sheet for it and it was way more than I had in my account at the time, so we settled on an extraction.
Now, all this was happening while I was in the chair, but I could hear everything going on around me. The woman who gave me the estimate then went to tell the assistants what the plan was, but she also mentioned I wasn’t having the root canal done because I was “too poor.” Then, the assistant remarked something along the lines of, “Should have fixed it when it was cheap then.” After that, she came in and started putting tools away, slamming doors and drawers, and getting all huffy with me.
Look, I’m not proud I put it off, so I told her I was sorry for the inconvenience. At that point, she muttered something under her breath and left the room. I didn’t see her again until the dentist came in. I again apologized to both of them for the inconvenience. I had no idea they’d be upset I wasn’t going for the root canal, and in all fairness, it’s not my fault they set up for the other procedure before talking to me. The doctor basically ignored me and said, “Let’s get this over with.” Then, without warning, he leaned me back and did a shot in my mouth. It was excruciating. I jumped in the chair. I cried. It really hurt. I have never had such a painful injection before. Then, before I even started to get numb, he started tugging on my tooth and pulled it out. I felt everything. Everything. I bawled and bled excessively the whole day. My whole jaw hurt the rest of the week.
I feel horrible about this experience. Is there something I should have done differently? I’m terrified of going to the dentist again. What can I do to avoid a repeat?
Freaked Out in Evanston
Dear Freaked Out,
So sorry this happened to you. This was not your fault. Not in the least. This was clearly a very unprofessional office. While it’s unclear what might have set them off, behavior like that is never acceptable.
People put off their work all the time. While it’s obviously not good to do, and unfortunately does result in dental emergencies like you faced, the office should have treated you with the care and compassion you deserve.
Going forward, it may be best to become established with an office that “caters to cowards” or practices “gentle dentistry.” These are just general terms some offices will use to denote that they understand dental anxiety and are prepared to help people who need an extra soft touch. From there, if you can’t afford to have your work done, be honest with them. Tell them what you’re up against and see if you can split up work, make payments, or do anything to start knocking the treatment out of the way. The right office will work with you and do what they can to help.
This blog is sponsored by Elgin emergency dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin. Dr. Sirin’s office not only offers same-day appointments for urgent issues, but also “caters to cowards.”