Adventures in tooth pulling… German style.

If you’ve been reading my main blog, you may have already read about my dental ordeal this week.  Since this is a travel blog and a lot of my readers are people who live near Stuttgart, I thought I’d write a quick post here for those who are curious about dental care in Germany.

The first time Bill and I lived here, I only sought dental care once.  In 2008, I went to the medical clinic at Patch Barracks, which was where the dental clinic was located at the time.  It is now at Panzer Kaserne and since Bill is now a contractor, we have to use dentists on the economy.  In any case, the dentists we saw at Patch were great.  I only needed a cleaning and one small filling, which they were able to take care of easily.  Bill had to have a more complicated procedure, which he said was done by an excellent Army dentist.  Bill has had a lot of work done and knows his dentists.

Seven years later, I’ve been dealing with more dental issues.  In the past couple of years, I’ve had new two crowns done and one crown replaced.  When we first got back to Stuttgart, I got pretty nervous about who was going to be my dentist.  Based on recommendations in the local community, I chose Dr. Warren Blair.  So far, I’m really happy with my choice.  Dr. Blair is fluent in German, but his native tongue is English.  He was trained in the United States and Switzerland, but he’s been in practice in Germany for a couple of decades.

This week, I went to his office to have one of two baby teeth extracted.  I had been putting off this procedure for months because I dreaded the potential pain and the big hole I knew I’d have after the tooth was removed.  I was very nervous on the day of the extraction, even as I was looking forward to having it behind me.  The tooth had been causing more issues recently and, since I plan to replace it with an implant and they take time, I knew we needed to get going on this process.

Unfortunately, we neglected to arrange for anti-anxiety medication, which Dr. Blair will prescribe if you need it.  He will also arrange for IV sedation for more complicated dental work.  I have never taken any anti-anxiety meds for dental procedures, but I sure felt like I needed some on Tuesday.  I was left waiting alone in a treatment room for about 20 minutes and by the time he got to me, I was about to jump out of my skin.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone back to the waiting room, where Bill was sitting.  The dental assistant kept telling me he was going to come.  At one point, she asked me if I wanted something to read.  I was way too nervous to read.  I tried to focus on the really beautiful photograph of the blue ocean and trees on the wall in front of me.  The photo was almost perfect, except on the far left of the picture, there was a little stray branch that looked out of place.  If the photographer had turned the camera a little more to the right, the picture would have been almost perfect.

Dr. Blair finally came in and was very conversational.  Then he noticed I was about to freak out and was on the verge of tears.  I finally explained to him that I was once traumatized by an Air Force doctor.  Ever since then, I get very nervous around medical people.  I usually do alright with dentists, but the idea of having an extraction was scary, even though I had one when I was 16.  Anxiety was getting the better of me.

So after he put numbing gel on the places where he was going to inject the anesthetic, he said he was going to “loosen the gums” around the tooth.  While he was talking, I relaxed a little and he gave a pull.  The tooth came right out.  He looked at it and saw that there was a vertical crack in one of the roots.  Extraction was the right thing to do.

I’m now missing the tooth, but I am not in any pain and have experienced no swelling.  I don’t have the vague toothache, bleeding, and infection that I had before.  I will go back to see Dr. Blair in early October, have a cleaning, and get impressions done for the implant he’s going to put in later.  And, for future procedures, there will be Valium…

*ETA- we received a bill in the mail for this procedure just before New Year’s Eve.  It cost 120 euros.       


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