I think I have died and gone to heaven. Or someplace I never expected to be found in. I am walking around in a daze, with a smile on my face, and wondering how this wonderful man came into my life.
Oh no, no! This is not a result from my on-line dating. This is the result of a life-long fear perpetuated by my mother. When I was a little girl, she always told me that if I was a “bad girl” she would send me to her sister Mitzi because Mitzi worked for a dentist! “And you know that dentists can hurt people, Judi.” I loved my Aunt Mitzi – but only when she came to the house because I NEVER wanted to visit her at work, even though she let me play with the switchboard and push a lot of buttons.
I must have been about 7 when I had to go to see Dr. Schwartz. I don’t recall being bad – in fact – I NEVER recall being bad until I became a teenager. None-the-less I had to go see him. And while he was working on me he became distracted and HE ACCIDENTALLY DRILLED THROUGH MY TONGUE! (My mother said it was an accident, because “I had not been that bad!”) That one experience convinced me that when my mother said “we are going to see Aunt Mitzi” I would practically get on my knees and promise NEVER to do anything wrong again. Ever.
As an adult, I continued with the fear of dentist’s and have been known to cancel appointments 3-4 times before actually going in to have a routine teeth cleaning.
I am also a 16 year cancer survivor. My dental insurance allowed me to see a dentist in Pt. Loma. I went to him twice, and had dental x-rays the first time. When I went to see him the third time he told me it was time for another set of x-rays. I told him I would not have them. There was nothing wrong with my teeth and I didn’t need them. He told me that if I didn’t have them he would not work on me. He couldn’t have said anything better to me because I got up and left, never to darken his door again.
Last year I decided to enroll in the Medicare dental program. The closest dental facility was in Mission Valley and overcoming my intense fear, I made an appointment and only cancelled it once. The office was huge; it reminded me of a “dental mill” because there were so many people working there. And, of course, the first thing the dentist wanted to do was take a full-mouth x-ray. And after that was done he wanted to “probe” the gums to see how much bone loss there was. I had done that before and although not truly painful, it is uncomfortable. But…what the heck, I thought, let’s see how bad my teeth are getting.They weren’t too bad, and finally I was introduced to the dental hygienist. She suggested that I come in every 4 months because “you are getting older”, she said.
Then the dentist looked at me again. “You know”, he said, “I think you have a bad tooth and need to have a root canal. And, since you are not using your wisdom tooth in the back, it probably needs to come out also.” In the back of my mind is the adage – “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But I made an appointment to see the “specialist” and was a nervous wreck before appointment day. But the Gods must have been with me, because they wanted $1200 up front; Medicare would not pay for the root canal nor the extraction. Hooray! I got up and left, but not before I made an appointment for another teeth cleaning.
The day of reckoning approached and I walked into the office with fear and trepidation. I was called into the office by a man I had never seen before and he had a drill in his hand. I asked him who he was and was told he would be the one cleaning my teeth. I asked where the other person was and was told she no longer worked there. He said he wanted to do a “probe” before he cleaned my teeth. I said one had been done 4 months ago and I did not want to have another one now. He went to get the dentist. Another person I had never seen before. He had taken over for the dentist I saw 4 months ago. He said, “if you don’t have the probe we will not work on you.” What pleasure and satisfaction I got when I said, “Bye.”
So now it is 6 months later and I know that I need to have my teeth cleaned. My neighbor recommended this “wonderful” dentist in Ocean Beach. Young, caring, good personality, etc. Up-to-date on current techniques. I checked him out on YELP and found he had good reviews. I decided to try it out. After all, if he wanted to do something I didn’t want to have done, all I would have to say is “no” and leave.
Well, let me tell you something. I am looking forward to my next visit with him. He was personable; he listened to the answers to the questions I gave him; he told me immediately that I would never have to have anything done that I didn’t want to have done. He found no evidence that I needed a root canal; he showed me a fracture of the wisdom tooth and said if it ever bothered me to let him know, but since there was no tooth above it, I was probably not even using it to chew. We talked about where he received his DDS degree and it turned out that he had two; one from Mexico and one from Loma Linda University. He is married; has 3 sons; his wife owns a Montessori school in Chula Vista. He took additional classes at USC and other California Schools, but since I am a graduate of UCLA I brushed that off. (No pun intended)
He was gentle through-out the entire procedure; he kept me informed as to what he was doing; and when the time was up I was a little disappointed I would be leaving him. When he suggested making an appointment in 4 months I jumped at the chance. I am actually looking forward to going. I do not think I will cancel it, not even once.
So who is this “God of the Dental Chair?” His name is Pablo Liciaga; he is located at 2115 Bacon, right here in Ocean Beach. (His office is located between Brighton and Long Branch.) Phone number is 619-224-2986.
It should also be said that his office staff is nice and concerned about the patient’s welfare. The only criticism I have is that the couch in the waiting room is so soft it might take a crane to lift me out of it next time because the “fear factor” is gone. Happy Smiling.