MY FIRST VISIT TO A PORTUGUESE DENTIST
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I have a severe fear of the dentist. This stems back to a really horrible childhood visit to the dentist and I won’t elaborate on my experience but it was horrendous. I have been really brave and when I was in the U.K I managed to find an amazing NHS dentist who understood my feelings of anxiety and was amazing. I regularly visited every 6 months for check-ups and luckily I haven’t needed any treatment for a while now. Dentists are private here and you can’t get one on the SNS (equivalent to NHS) unless you have special circumstances, which I don’t. Costs here are a bit lower than the private U.K prices but I have always been registered with NHS in the U.K which have set band prices. I hate paying for dentists, I’m sure I’m not the only one who begrudges paying for pain (ha ha). I’m not really laughing as the thought of going is making me want to cry. On top of the childhood experience I also had an experience where I had a crown fitted and the injection did not work or numb the area so the dentist carried on regardless of me waving my arms at her to stop. There was also another occasion where my daughter had to have a baby tooth removed and it was supposed to be a pain free treatment but the dentist in the U.K who just happened to be Portuguese was so abrupt with her and had zero people skills, even though she was only about 8 years old (my daughter not the dentist, the dentist looked about 14!). The tooth did not come out and the dentist yanked it out in pieces as it broke and there was so much blood and screaming from all 3 of us that I fainted on the floor of the dentist room. That dentist disappeared soon afterwards and there was gossip that she wasn’t even qualified which made me so mad.
2 days ago I started getting pain in my mouth. It has worsened and switches between a throbbing pain and dull ache all down the left side of my mouth and cheek. I can’t even narrow the pain down to one particular tooth. I think I know which one is causing the problem but I am not 100% sure. I also have a huge headache right between my eyes and the headache has not stopped at all, all day and night to the point where I feel like I’m going to vomit. I put off phoning a dentist because I thought the pain would settle but it has not. I got hubby to phone a local dentist and book me an appointment. I don’t want to be in pain when my daughter visits as we have a full itinerary of fun activities. Luckily for me I did some research a few months ago and asked around for a good English speaking dentist and my Facebook friends recommended a local dentist in Côja (Policoja).
Hubby managed to get me an appointment for today at 2PM. Usually my dentist appointments are always 2.30PM for some reason then hubby makes a joke about 2.30PM (tooth hurty) which is not at all funny. I don’t think I slept at all last night due to nerves but I can’t sleep with the pain anyway. I was so nervous about going to the point where I nearly passed out in the car. I panic as soon as I cross the door. The smell and the tools in the room freak me out. It’s not about pain as I can stand a lot of pain and I feel I have a high pain threshold. After all I have given birth to a 10lb baby in a birthing pool with only gas and air, I have had my coccyx removed and coped with 4 months of rehabilitation, I have tattoos and I’m not afraid of needles in my arm to take blood but the dentist is a different story. Even a check up freaks me out. The tools in my mouth are so nasty and I end up choking on the bits then I panic and can’t catch my breath. I have to hold onto a part of my clothing and say over and over in my head “It’s O.K, It’s O.K, It’s O.K”. I know my fear is crazy but it’s real and it won’t ever go away so I just have to manage it the best way that I can. Hard drugs could help.
I entered the dentist facial mask on, just before 2pm and a lovely lady came out and told me to take a seat in the waiting room. My first impression was wow this is posh. The reception area was so clean and pretty with a sofa and plants that had flashing interchangeable coloured lighting. It is much nicer than my NHS dentist in U.K which has plastic seating and if your lucky you get the opportunity to read a Woman’s Own magazine dated from 1998, usually the Christmas edition in July or a Fishing magazine dated 2002 (ha ha). I thought hubby might have to wait outside but he was allowed to wait inside for me. I was called in within 5 minutes and sat in the dreaded chair. The dentist was very young but spoke perfect English. She asked about the pain then proceeded to hit my teeth with a small hammer. I kind of felt the pain in two of them which may have confused her. She took X-rays and showed me the results. It looks like the problem is from a molar which has a huge filling in already. She showed me that there is an infection for which she has prescribed antibiotics. Then broke the bad news that I need a root canal. I nearly wet my pants! Now the word canal reminds me of a river beach but when you put it after root it has a whole different meaning. Then she said the treatment will take 3 separate visits and I wanted to cry. I asked her what a root canal procedure entailed and she told me to google it.
I am in a lot of pain but my daughter is visiting soon so I don’t want to start treatment and have to put the remainder of the treatment on hold. There is no way I want to spoil my daughters once in a lifetime trip for her 18th birthday so I decided to book the first appointment for September. Obviously if the pain becomes unbearable and I end up on the floor begging for someone to kill me then I will need to re-visit sooner. I asked about costs and the receptionist charged me €30 for todays emergency visit. I was only in there a few minutes but she did take X-rays so this is not that expensive. She gave me a prescription and I took it to the pharmacy who charged me €3.19 for the weekly course of antibiotics. I asked the dentist receptionist if I have to pay at the end of final visit for the root canal or at the end of each visit and she confirmed I need to pay at the end of each visit. She estimated costs at €30 per visit but then another €35 for something but to be honest I kind of zoned out with the bad news. They then did not take card so hubby ran to cashpoint. I think it will end up costing a bit less than a private dentist in U.K (which can cost £95-£700 but most likely £400-£700 for a molar) but more than a NHS dentist in the U.K as root canals are covered under band 2 so only cost £62.10. It also depends on if you need a filling or a crown, this dentist said she would do a filling. I don’t really care about the expense, I just want the pain to go away. I will tally up the costs and share later, just in case you are interested.
When I got home I googled the antibiotic and how to take it and the first thing that popped up was someone had to give it to their cat (ha ha). Then I read further and realised it’s equivalent to Amoxicillin which I have had before. I am super nervous about having the root canal and I don’t know what I am going to do. I am worried that she might work on the tooth and then I find out it’s the tooth behind that’s causing me the pain. I am really concerned that the numbing injection is going to fail and I will feel every bit of pain or that I’m going to vomit or faint and that I might get an infection. I don’t want it to take 3 visits! I decided to google root canals and I watched a Youtube video from USA which I probably should not have done. This lady had a root canal in 1 visit but it took 2 hours! Apparently it should not be any more painful than a deep filling but I’m not buying that horse crap! The worse part is I now have days and days to worry about it which will drive me insane.
Wish me luck, I will update when I actually have the treatment if I survive the process. If i die, thanks for following me, it’s been a pleasure. If you have any positive words of wisdom for me leave a comment below. If you have any bad experiences with root canals please keep them to yourself (ha ha), I’m still not really laughing, I’m crying real traumatic tears!
The phrase on the wall translates to:
“If it makes you smile, it is because it is good. If it’s good for you, don’t let it slip away”. To be honest I don’t think theres gonna be much smiling going on during my root canal! I think they should change it to: “No pain, No gain! (ha ha).
2nd September 2020 update:
My daughter returned home to the U.K yesterday after her epic 2 weeks holiday here. I have not had much time to worry about the procedure so today the anxiety hit me. I arrived at the dentist and to be honest my tooth does not hurt much anymore. Random teeth seem to hurt and I just assumed that I need more fillings as well as the root canal. Dentist hit a few teeth with the small hammer tool and I was not in any pain. She them was a bit puzzled and explained that she didn’t want to carry out a tricky procedure if I was not in pain anymore, she would rather wait. I asked if I had any cavity/hole in the tooth or any others but she said they are all O.K except I need a clean and plaque removal which I can come back for in a month. Then she said I require 1 filling in my front tooth. She asked if I wanted it done now and I said yes. She started drilling with no injection to numb the area so I closed my eyes and said over and over in my head “It’s gonna be O.K, It’s gonna be O.K”. She did not put any protective glasses on me or bib so lot’s of water squirted in my face. It was a small filling and it didn’t hurt at all. I was so brave and now I only have to return for the clean and polish at the end of the month. I will monitor the other tooth and teeth in that area. I have a lot of old fillings which will need to be replaced at some point but at the moment I am so relieved that I don’t have to have the root canal. I was well prepared as I purchased a smoothie maker and silicone straws in preparation for the root canal. The cost for today was €35.
I returned for the clean and polish, it was fine and cost €30. So I’m all sorted now for 6 months unless I get any further pain then I will return earlier.
I meant to keep track of all my dental costs but life somehow got in the way. I have started a Medical Cost post of all my medical expenditure and you can find it here: https://casavalhal.com/medical-costs-in-portugal/