I had an old filling removed, a new filling placed, and a temporary crown installed yesterday before going to work. So, my day started out on a dismal note and perked up as it progressed.

First dismal note was that even with really good dental insurance, I put $301.20 on my credit card before 8 AM and I wasn’t buying anything fun. The price will be adjusted after the insurance company decides what it will or will not pay, apparently on some whim of the day.

Looking for help ... always difficult

The dentist is a lovely woman who does her very best to make my time there as painless as possible (not counting the credit card thing). She does a great job and I’m much less frightened or her than any other dentist in my life.

She has a very busy practice and much of her staff is related to Air Force folks since we are so close to the base. This type of job moves well, so many wives of airmen choose the profession. But it does mean a bit of a turnover at the office.

Yesterday, the technician working with the dentist was new. She must have just recently graduated from school.

At this juncture, I would like to apologize to any and all patients who were under my care as a student nurse or a recent grad. Nature protects us by making us think we know what we are doing when in fact, we are dolts without enough experience to recognize even simple things. I know I got to be an excellent nurse as time went on, but at first – well, kindly put, not so much.

This young woman may turn into a lovely technician some day. She was happy and jovial and willing to learn. Unfortunately, I was part of her learning experience.

The x-ray machine must be different at my dentist’s than whatever she used to learn on. She did a great x-ray, just not of the tooth we actually needed. So, we did a second x-ray and I held the cable so it wouldn’t pull, something I was not asked to do the first time. The film was also positioned differently to catch the very last tooth in the back. Although she did get the bubble centered correctly the first time, after her preceptor showed her how. All this while I was gagging on the x-ray crap in my mouth.

She made a few minor mistakes that I could tell about since as an OR nurse who scrubbed, I know how to hand instruments over and keep the field clean and assist the surgeon with stuff. She did most of that correctly, but once the dentist had to point out the tray of instruments was no longer quite usable. And the tech neglected to have a wipe for instruments handy. I’m sure she will quickly learn to do this stuff, because she seemed willing to do so.

She had quite a bit of trouble getting an impression for the temporary crown. That took four tries. I wanted to ask if all the saliva was causing her problems because the wax felt too wet to me, the inexperienced patient – but experienced nurse. I didn’t question her, but she finally decided that might be a problem on her own and so the fourth time actually worked.

Then when it came time to use it, the dentist asked if she had asked me to bite down on the wax mold. She hadn’t and she admitted that. I should have. It would have made a difference. It wasn’t essential, but it would have been better. I’m guessing she won’t forget that lesson, either. It is highly embarrassing to learn in front of a patient and tends to make you remember the lesson so it never, ever happens again.

The dentist did all this prep work and then left the tech place the temporary crown while the dentist did some other dental-doctor work in another cubical. She told the tech to remove the second string and place the temporary crown.

She placed the crown and declared us finished. I asked about the second string. She said the doctor had removed it. I knew that was not true. By this time I was an essential participant in my care. I said, sweetly and without any rancor, that she hadn’t, she only did the first one. So the tech checked and by God, I was correct. So she struggled to remove the string and finally we were done.

The dentist came back to check her work and the crown wasn’t seated correctly (I have no idea if pulling the string out second helped unseat it) and she hadn’t removed the excess cement. So we needed to start that part over. The dentist did check to make sure the second string was removed – smart woman.

They cleaned up the crown and the tech put way too much cement in and it squished all over and had to be cleaned more than usual. I hope she doesn’t over-correct and not put in enough next time, but I’m all cemented up real good – that’s for sure.

Because of all this dual work, I was 20 minutes late getting to work. I had asked when they made the appointment, if I would be able to manage getting to work on time. They assured me I could. I wouldn’t have been quite that late, but I had to get milk and ran next door to pick up the milk I needed, spending less than five minutes doing that.

I hope this young woman is a quick study. She seemed quite pleased with herself and her job and was pleasant to be with. It is so hard to start in a profession with any amount of finesse, because you simply don’t have enough experience to carry it off. That takes a while and it is difficult for the up and coming professional as well as those who need to help her gain that needed experience.

Luckily, we all did well and my mouth is pain free today.