My Crowning Experience: A Personal Journal at Q&M Dental

Date: September 21, 2010

by Roger Tan, SIAS Research

I once watched a psychology documentary that introduced the concept of compassion through a caveman’s skull. The host showed a skull that had one tooth missing and he explained that though a missing tooth (I remember it’s a molar) is no longer a “big deal”, during the caveman’s days it can be life threatening.

He went on to explain that without this tooth the caveman would not have been able to chew (or grind) his food and therefore not be able to eat. To survive, someone else must be willing to grind food for him instead and that requires some form of compassion.

This article is not about compassion. It’s about the tooth – not the caveman’s but my tooth. Just about a month ago, I was unable to consume my favorite dessert – ice‐cream – because of a cracked tooth (that was what I found out during my dental check up) but I am now able to enjoy it again thanks to Q&M Dental.

This is a journal of my experience at Q&M Dental Centre and how they took care of my dental problem. After reading this journal, I hope you will know the importance of putting in consistent effort to take care of your pearly browns and also the importance of knowing the right dental professionals.

The Pain of Not Being Able to Take the Cold.

Imagine this. You are holding a cup of your favorite homemade durian ice‐cream in your hand. You scoop (with your small ice‐cream spoon) a small spoonful of that sweet cold delicious ice-cream from the cup and carefully ease it into your mouth to acquire that aromatic sensation.

Suddenly, you feel that small scoop of ice-cream turned into Norman Bates, holding a knife up in the air and stabbing your teeth with a 12 inch knife – drilling it into your teeth and into your gum as deep as it can go. The pain reaches your jaw and all you can do is hold on to your face to ease the pain. Each new scoop is like Norman lifting that knife and stabbing you again and again and the pain lingers for at least a few minutes.

Ice-cream, cold drinks, and even cold desserts reminded me only of the pain whenever they sit on the dining table. I had to be prepared for every sip and every bite. Something was really wrong. I had experienced some discomfort before but never so acute and intense. I decided to see a dentist to treat this torment.

Greetings Dental Centre, What Can You Do For Me?

I arranged for an appointment at Q&M Dental Centre just a few days after being tormented by the pain. I was assigned to Dental Surgeon Dr Tay Eu-Jin.

I have been to the new dental centre before but I haven’t had the chance to try out their services. I had been impressed by the equipment and technology available at the centre and I thought it is good to get a first hand feel of what they can offer.

I arrived at Q&M Dental Centre in City Square Mall at Kitchener Road and was immediately greeted by the counter staff who asked me for my appointment information and also some personal details. I was then asked to wait at the relaxing waiting area.

I was ushered into Dr Eu‐Jin’s dental room after just a few minutes wait. Upon entering, a courteous gentleman introduced himself as Dr Tay Eu-Jin and showed me to the “fearful” chair that I always call the “drill-and-squeal” chair. But the dental chair felt somewhat different. It felt more like a high tech entertainment station with the monitor screen attached to it. Of course, the monitor was not an entertainment unit.

I explained to Eu-Jin my dental problem and gave him my speculation of how I got my toothache. He was very patient and attentive. He explained to me that I may have a cracked tooth but an x-ray would need to be taken first before he continued with his diagnosis.

The x-ray machine was nothing I have seen before. It looked nothing like the last dental x-ray I took when I had my wisdom tooth removed. I did not have to put a piece of x-ray film into my mouth; all I needed to do was to place my forehead on a rest and bite onto a piece of plastic mouth‐piece.

The x‐ray machine then revolved around my head (felt like it was scanning my brains for my thoughts) to take an x-ray of all my teeth. The x-ray was then loaded up to the system which Eu‐Jin was able to access at his station. (Yes, that is what the monitor at the dental chair was for).

He then proceeded to check my teeth and saw a hairline crack at one of my teeth. He explained to me that I may need to go through root canal treatment and then crowning that tooth to prevent further deterioration.

Another dentist was needed to give me a second opinion to ensure that the identified tooth was the right tooth.

At my request, I was arranged to see the very experienced Dr Ng Jet Wei a few minutes later to get a second opinion. After a few more tests, he confirmed the identified tooth and then explained to me what needed to be done. He was very patient and detailed when answering my queries.

I was immediately referred to Endodontist Dr Ralph Hawkins to take a final look. I then proceeded to arrange for a day to do the root canal treatment with Ralph.

Root Canal Day!

The thought of someone drilling a hole through my teeth down to my gum and removing some nerves was nerve‐wracking (no pun intended). As I entered Ralph’s room on “root canal” day, my anxiety was further heightened as my eyes zoomed in at the needles and syringes in the tray. “How are you feeling today?” asked Ralph as I position myself into the drill-and-squeal chair. “Really nervous” I remember answering him. He smiled and assured me everything will be fine and the procedure will not take too long.

Ralph was really skillful and meticulous. I didn’t feel the needle as he injected the anesthesia into my gum. It was at that moment I felt relieved and my anxiety subsided somewhat a few minutes after the drilling started. It was really not that bad. Furthermore, I am glad he didn’t sing (or hum) during the whole process like my last dentist did when he removed my wisdom tooth. I don’t really mind if the singing was good but you know what I mean.

The process ended within an hour. However, I had to return a few more times to get a permanent filling and also to fabricate and fit my crown.

No Golden Tooth Rog.

“What is crowning?” was a question that came to my mind when I went back to see Eu-Jin to crown my treated tooth. As Eu-Jin explained to me what crowning is and took me simply through the process, I realized crowning is how people got their golden teeth.

I was less anxious this time as I sat on the dental chair (again). Eu-Jin, like Ralph, was very skillful. He took a few moulds to help the fabrication team create my crown during the crowning process and he was very careful when “molding” my tooth to prepare it for crowning. Eu‐Jin ended the whole process with a temporary crown so that I can still eat normally while I wait for the permanent crown. I had steamed crab that night for supper and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Other than a tired jaw, I didn’t really feel any pain or discomfort. Again, like Ralph, Eu-Jin didn’t sing. What a relief.

I returned a few days later to see Eu-Jin again to fit my permanent crown. The crown looked amazingly like my real tooth. The whole fitting procedure was mainly a “try and adjust” process but Eu-Jin was patient and accommodating throughout the session (I am a fussy customer). After the final adjustment was made, he added the cement and glued the crown to my molded stump.

He took a while more to clean the tooth and showed me the results. After affirming that I am happy with the crown, he then proceeded to clean the rest of my teeth. After about an hour, it was all over and my “pearlies” are whole once more.

Test and Reflect

With my problematic tooth fixed, I decided to test it. I walked over to MacDonald’s, ordered an ice‐cream cone, sat down and started the test.

I closed my eyes and opened my mouth as I move the ice-cream towards my mouth. I carefully bit into the ice-cream and moved the chewed off bit towards the problematic area on purpose – ready for the dental Norman Bates to return. It was a tense moment.

But Norman did not return. There was no more pain (at least not from that tooth). I could now enjoy the cold sensation and taste the sweet milk again. There is oral joy once more.

Unfortunately fixing my dental problem didn’t come cheap. A few hundred for the root canal and a few more hundred for the crowning added up to a hefty bill. It was either spending the money or living in pain with a risk of splitting that tooth for the rest of my life. The former was a lesser evil.

But all these could have been avoided if I had put in more effort to protect my teeth – like don’t be a hero and try cracking a crab claw with them. I didn’t appreciate my teeth that much until this experience. Eu-Jin said I have a good set of teeth and I should take care of it. I am glad it is not too late to realize it now.

Bear my experience in mind when you are biting into that pork rib in your dim sum or cracking a crab claw. Your set of teeth is important. It may not be life and death like the old days anymore but it can give you a lot of unnecessary pain and inconvenience if you don’t take care of them.

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