Going to the Dentist & Why You Should Say if You’re Breastfeeding

I went to the dentist today.  It was the first time in, oh, 4 years.  I was not looking forward to it.  A certain right molar which shall remain nameless had been giving me odd little twinges for the last month.  I knew something was wrong but hated the thought of… the drill!  Bum bum bum!!!

Eventually, I decided to get it over with.  I saw one of those group buying coupon emails that had a deal for a dental clean-up, x-rays, etc.  I purchased one, made an appointment, and today was the day.

It actually wasn’t that bad.

For starters, going to the dentist in NZ is different than going to the dentist in the US.  I really, really liked my childhood dentist, but after that have not been impressed with dentists over there.  And I don’t have bad teeth.  Still, whenever I got there they were rushed, grumpy, the dental hygienists attacked my mouth with floss as though they were trying to vent all their frustrations on my poor gums… you get the idea.

My dentist today walked in, shook my hand, and introduced himself by his first name only.

Side Bar: That’s pretty common over here.  Most people don’t go by “Dr. So-and-So”.  They say, “Hi – I’m Evan” or whatever their name may be.  Someone introduced Chris as Dr. Chris _______ the other day, and I couldn’t help but snicker.  I leaned over to Chris and said, “I forgot you were a doctor!” and he chuckled, leaned over to me, and said, “Me too!”  It’s pretty laid back here.

Anyway, back to my story.

My dentist introduced himself, but I was so nervous about the cavity that I simply blurted out, “Tell me now – is it bad?  Do I have a cavity?  Do I need a filling?!”

Of course, it’s hard for the dentist to answer those questions if they haven’t even done the x-rays yet.  Or looked in your mouth.  Yes, I was nervous.

Turns out that I did have a cavity.  And just because I’m extra special, my teeth decided to throw a party and give me 2 cavities.  Ugh.

Here’s where the other little hiccup enters the picture.  You see, earlier that day, the hospital called and asked if I’d be willing to come in that night for a short shift.  I said yes, on the condition that my dental appointment went OK.  I definitely didn’t want to linger at the dentist, because I needed to get home, feed Joe, change into scrubs, and still have time to eat and walk to the hospital.  My appointment was at 3:30p, and work started at 7p.  I figured I’d be sweet and wouldn’t have a thing to worry about.

Yeah, not so much.

Turns out that my dentist had an elderly patient show up on the wrong day, thinking it was his appointment.  Unfortunately, he had come in not long before me, and they decided to work him in rather than making him come back in the following day.  This meant that my appointment was late.

I’ll give you the good news first.  The good news is that since it was late, the dentist decided to give me a discount.  I have never had a doctor of any kind give me a discount because they were running late.  It certainly put me in a better mood!

The bad news is that I was running late.  I got out of there close to 5:30p, still had to catch a bus, nurse Joe, change, eat, and walk to work all in an hour and a half.  The bus was late, naturally.  I rushed home, threw on some scrubs, started to nurse Joe, and then tried to slurp down some Greek yogurt with a touch of honey swirled in.

Yes, I said “slurp” down yogurt.  Since I had 2 cavities, 1 on each side, the dentist decided to numb me up.  My face felt frozen, stiff, and bizarre.  My speech was garbled and I was drooling as I walked to the bus stop and working my tongue around, causing the man that I passed on the way to give me a very odd look.  I don’t blame him.  I kept waiting for it wear off, but it wasn’t… and I had to leave for work!  I finished the yogurt and was trying to eat some soft bread {gave that up pretty quickly}.  Chris began to laugh at me as I readied my work bag.  Apparently, I had a yogurt goatee on my chin.  That’s how numb it was, and it was nearly 2 hours since he’d first injected the gums.

I swiped the yogurt off my face, gave Chris and Joe a kiss, and walked as fast as I could to work.  I figured that by walking fast, getting my heart rate going, drinking some water, I would flush the numbing agent out of my system.  It sort of worked.  By the time I got to the ER, I was at least speaking in intelligible sentences, though all of my colleagues were wondering what was up with my face.

Sigh.

It wore off eventually, and I stopped having to explain to horrified looking patients that it was just dental work, nothing more.  I thought about having some fun with it and pretending that I didn’t know what they were talking about when they asked, “Are you OK”, but that would be mean 🙂

This brings me to my last little bit.  When I was filling out the dentist form, it asked about the routine, standard stuff: health problems, concerns with my teeth, medications, pregnant or not, etc.  Nowhere did it ask about breastfeeding, but I decided to jot that down, anyway.  I was glad that I did.  As it turns out, there has been research showing that certain types of filling agents should not be used with nursing mothers because of trace amounts of mercury.  First of all, I don’t want extra mercury in my system whether I’m nursing or not, but I certainly don’t want it to be in there while I’m nursing Joe.  I was glad that the dentist was up on his research, and we decided to use a different filling which, unfortunately will mean I have to floss a bit more.

So basically, the dentist was asking me if wanted to floss a bit more, or potentially expose my 7 month old to a heavy metal that’s been linked with various neuro and developmental problems.  Hmm… let me think…

If you’re interested, here’s a bit more information on dental fillings and mercury.  It sounds as though the amount of amalgam fillings {filings with mercury} isn’t so much important if you already have them while pregnant/breastfeeding, but getting one or having one removed during either of those periods of your life might not be such a good idea.

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7 comments

  1. Laura says:

    I thoroughly enjoy staying at home this time, but from time to time I do think about my previous life working in a dental office and miss certain patients. I love reading about your job in the ER! How nice of the dentist to offer a discount, though I worked for a very nice dentist who never refused to see patients. Glad to hear you survived the filling and sorry you were so numb! You wouldn’t believe the questions patients asked regarding the amalgam fillings (silver) bc it had studies shown of mercury leaking and causing brain damage. It’s better to be safe for sure. I’m still cautious even with digital X-rays!

  2. Erin says:

    Yes, I need to go. Would you recommend this guy? I keep asking around, and the usual answer is, “Oh, I’m looking for one too!” So, I’ve been putting it off…which can only make the inevitable worse, right? 🙂

  3. Jenny @ Practically Perfect... says:

    I know – apparently it’s the amalgam fillings that have trace amounts of mercury as opposed to the “white” fillings (what my dentist in NZ called the ones he gave me). I just did a Google search on amalgam fillings, and there’s a whole wikipedia entry on the “alagam filling controversy”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_amalgam_controversy and here’s a bit more: http://www.kellymom.com/health/chemical/mercury.html

  4. Brittany says:

    I did not know that! Thank God you said something because as soon as we get settle in GA, I’m going to the dentists. I think I broke a piece off one of my back molars on my home-made granola. It’s not painful, but I’ve been avoiding getting it looked at because of the move. And if he’s going to do a filling, I need to mention this to him!

  5. Ashley says:

    Ha. MY husband didn’t go to the dentist FOR YEARS over there. YEARS. He HATED it. It took some really bad tooth issues to get him to one here and he had to have several oral surgeries! I didn’t realize your husband was a Dr. over there. AN MD? My husband had an MD at the ER last week who was leaving here in a few weeks to practice medicine in Nelson. And, nice to know on the mercury in fillings. I bet my dentist doesn’t even know that, but I have an apt. next month and I almost ALWAYS have cavities , so Thanks for the knowledge!
    And the top of your post says Feb. 2nd and its still the 1st here.

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