For many of my generation, the word ‘dentist’ is a frightening word. It conjures up uneasy visions, sounds of drills, and the taste of Novocain. All these sensations have kept many individuals raised in the 50’s and 60’s from finding their way to a dentist until it is often too late to save their own teeth. Even as I write these words, I feel the long forgotten terror creep up my neck.
Such descriptions may be hard for the current generation of dental professionals to understand. With the modern equipment, technology and medical advances, the dental experience of today does not bare much resemblance to that of the past. The result of finding such a great modern professional dentist here in Portland, Oregon has not just affected my health, but it has changed my entire life.
Often, as adults we look back on the traumas of childhood and wonder why we were so frightened or so embarrassed. We recognize how many of the things we experienced in those years affected the rest of our lives. This is true of my first experience with a little white travel trailer that would come to our school, providing dental care for students of families that did not have money for such care on their own.
Looking back, I am sure he was probably a good dentist. He was retired and volunteered his time to help the low-income families. However, being a child at the time, I did not appreciate his efforts. Besides the uncomfortable experience that dentistry was in the 1950’s, the stigma of the others in the class knowing that my family had no money for dentists was an even greater embarrassment to me.
Although no harm was done to me in that ‘little white trailer’, it set the tone for my life long fear of dentists.
As an adult, I can see the progress of such a fear. Not having regular dentist visits as I grew up, my teeth grew in crowded and resulted in not only a smile that could be described as ‘less than pretty’ but inevitably, gum disease and bone destruction.
It is easy when you are young to think that nothing will ever change, and if your health is good, it always will be good. The same is true of our teeth. Unfortunately, I learned that is not true, when, in my thirties my bottom teeth started getting loose. A strange thing happens to a person who has not cared for their teeth. They know they must do something or will lose what they have but at the same time, they are more frightened than ever to go for fear that the dentist will tell them it is too late. Therefore, I waited. I ate very carefully and thought if I started caring for them, they would fix themselves. I did not understand about gum disease and destruction of the bone that it causes.
I always considered my teeth to be a time bomb waiting to go off! In the 1990’s, my bottom teeth had gotten so bad I finally decided to go to the dentist. He could not save my 4 front, bottom teeth but described how we could replace them with various types of bridges that were available at the time. The idea of removable teeth was, for me, unthinkable since I associated such dental work with old age and I was only 40! Of course, once again, since my bottom teeth were the only ones that I was afraid of losing, the bridge was all I fixed refusing to recognize that the problem would continue to grow.
At 57, my life fell apart and I had to start all over again. Suddenly being alone and single, I needed to survive. I decided to go to college and build my own business. To accomplish this I needed to look and feel good about myself. Yet, once again, my teeth were loose and I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was in big trouble. I was desperate to save my ‘smile’.
Smiles Northwest, a dental office in Beaverton, Oregon was recommended to me by a close friend. I looked up the website and got very excited. From the pictures and the information I read, I thought, maybe, this dentist could help me undo years of neglect without destroying my precious smile.
Over the years, the damage had gotten worse. My teeth were loose and my gums bled easily. I was embarrassed to go to this professional, modern dentist in such a condition, but Dr. Alan Montrose never made me feel ashamed for my neglect. He was honest, however, and told me that there was a great deal of work to be done to try to save my smile. He took the time to explain that the progression of the disease must be stopped before any repair work could even be considered.
Because of my financial situation, Dr. Montrose recommended that I begin by seeing Dr. Jeremy Montrose who was just finishing up at the dental school in Portland, and would soon be joining as an associate of Smiles Northwest.
Dr. Jeremy understood how important it was to me to save my smile. He was not sure if that was possible but we would take it one-step at a time. For the first time a dentist listend to, not just the things I said, but the way I felt. We discussed what was important to me. We began slowly working on healing and repairing the damage of 40 years of neglect, paying as I went along.
Soon the time came when Jeremy Montrose became Dr. Montrose #2 at the Beaverton dental office and I was frightened I would be left behind. I should not have been concerned. He had not only become a good dentist but he appreciated his patients and took me with him when he started his new practice at Smiles Northwest.
Now it was time to see if we could save my smile. With regular visits and diligent efforts, we had stopped the progression of my disease. However, much damage had already been done. Dr. Jeremy consulted with Dr. Alan Montrose and explained my adamant concern with saving my smile and keeping the teeth I had left. Together they came up with three different possibilities to grant my wish. They explained step-by-step each process and the costs involved. When they told me that because we had gotten my disease under control it was now possible to have a beautiful natural smile, I was overjoyed.
Now, almost a year later, my gums no longer bleed. I can eat what I wish and not fear biting on something hard. My bite is straight and my chewing is effective. However, most important, my smile is more beautiful than I ever dreamed it could be.
In the past 4 years, I have begun my life over again. I have gone to college for the first time in my ilfe, graduated with a degree and begun my own business. I have many things to smile about now and because of Dr. Montrose, I can do that too!
We thank Alexia for sharing her touching story. We are so happy that our dentistry and care of our patient’s health has been the reason Alexia was able to get her wish of keeping her teeth, and having a healthy, beautiful smile.
If her story impacts you, please feel free to post a response, or give us a call. Our doctors are always more than happy to sit down and discuss how dentistry and/or good hygiene care can positively affect your life and health. We’d love to talk to you! 971-205-1786