Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dental Woe

Woe, woe, woe is me, and woe is my top left incisor.

Once upon a time, my top left incisor had a rather large filling right along the gum line. That filling came out. At the time, I had no dental insurance, so I didn't do anything about it.

Well, all these [mumble mumble] years later, I finally go in for a cleaning. The hygienist and dentist were very nice and said I must brush my teeth very well if it's been [mumble mumble] years and my teeth haven't fallen out yet, but there are a few cavities that need filled, and oh yeah, that one top left incisor is too far gone, so it's going to need a root canal and crown.

Now, all I knew about root canals is that people hate them, so when I got home I looked them up on Wikipedia. Big mistake! Aside from some truly disgusting photos of teeth, the description also involved the words "drill out the pulp of the tooth."

Still, since I didn't want the poor tooth to wind up even worse, I kept my appointment after work this past Thursday.

The technician was very careful to explain exactly what they were going to do, and that helped my nerves a lot. Even better was the fact that they used two syringes full of Novocaine, one on the front side of my gum and one on the back. The actual root canal itself I didn't even feel. I was able to just sort of zone out. (Which means there's now a note in my file about what a good patient I am because I hold perfectly still!)

After that, however, they had to shape my tooth down so it would hold the crown. And that was rather unpleasant. I mean, the vibration that comes when they're more or less using a dremel tool on my tooth just isn't fun, whether I can feel the pain or not! And I have to admit, the tooth (or what was left of it) was starting to hurt some when I was waiting for the tech to shape my temporary crown. The Novocaine was wearing off, I guess. And the tooth was probably embarrassed to be naked of its enamel.

But they finished in due course and I went on my way with prescriptions for Amoxicillin and Vicodin, with instructions to use Ibuprofen for pain during the day.

(As an aside, I'm really rather disappointed in Vicodin. Other people who've had it say it makes you feel all fun and floaty and gives you some really funky dreams. With me it just eases my pain and very gently makes me sleepy. However, the fact that it does ease my pain gives it a bonus over the Percoset I had when I broke my arm!)

So, yesterday when I was eating lunch, my temporary crown fell out. I called the dental office's emergency number, and the answering service paged Dr. Ahmed for me. When he called me back, he said to use a little bit of toothpaste to glue it back in, then come in to have it fixed better on Monday.

The toothpaste sort of worked--it would stay in for talking, and maybe even for drinking fluids, but I could tell that if I tried to eat with the crown toothpasted on there, it would just fall right off again, no matter how I tried to avoid having any food touch it. Sigh. So I got some denture grip goo and used that instead. The crown stayed on through dinner and overnight, but it was working loose, and then it fell out during lunch today.

Unfortunately, this time I didn't notice until I crunched down on it with my back molars. Um, yeah. That is one unusable crown. I suppose I'm lucky I didn't swallow it!

So now I have this horrible shaped-down, uncrowned tooth with which I have to go to work in the morning. And even worse, tomorrow we're being visited by an exec who has the power to decide whether my position stays or goes! (I will, of course, be heading straight to the dentist's office when work is done.)

I suppose I can just be careful of how I talk and smile tomorrow, and no one will notice. I've always been self-conscious about my teeth, so I'm used to not showing them anyway.

And hey, maybe I'll be lucky and the exec will have pity and decide I need to be hired as a permanent employee so I can be on their dental plan.... well, probably not much chance there. But I can dream.


martie said...

Oh, I've never had a root canal, but from what I've heard about them, I would never have wanted one anyway! At my age, (top secret news) I have a full set of dentures, but it is much better if you can keep your own teeth forever, trust me on this one, girl!

Hope everything works out soon.


Beth said...

I think the sympathetic wincing I've done while reading this post is probably the best workout I've had in a year.

Hope they get it all fixed up and SOON and as painlessly as possible!! I know my turn is coming before long. :(

Aithne said...

So how's the pretty new tooth?

Bainwen Gilrana said...

The new tooth is much better. They made this one from a mold of my old tooth, so it looks exactly like my old tooth, but I know it's not really my tooth so it's strange. It's in there very securely. I'm not at all sure how they're going to get it out when I go back for the permanent crown next week!