In about 1983 I developed a cavity in one of my upper right molar teeth.
Being a dutiful daughter and unable to decline in any case, I resentfully went to the dentist and had it repaired.
That filling lasted until about 1986 when, in the midst of a campout with a troupe of 7 and 8 year olds in the woods at Camp Sealth, it fell out in a toasted marshmallow. As an aside, if you ever have the chance to get concentrated sugar on a raw nerve in your mouth, might I recommend that you decline the honor. That’s a really special sensation.
So back to the dentist I went.
That filling lasted until about 1993. At which point it cracked and I had to take time away from my shifts in the university hospital to go find a dentist to repair it. That was the first porcelain filling that went in that tooth.
The porcelain filling lasted until about 1997 when it cracked. And the dentist that I’d been seeing in Olympia replaced it.
Which lasted until about 2002. When it cracked and my current dentist noted that since there wasn’t very much of the original tooth left, it’d probably be worthwhile to just go ahead and put a crown on it.
And, through (if you’ll pardon the expression) gritted teeth, I concurred.
Until a couple of weeks before my 6 month checkup in January when the damn thing broke.
And since my dentist said that the average lifespan on an average crown is about 15 years, I had to agree with her that it needed replacing. AGAIN.
So loaded to the eyeballs with valium I trotted off to the dentist. Before she took the old crown off I asked her if, since the last two times I’d needed a crown on a tooth I’d ended up needing a root canal, she shouldn’t just plan on doing the damn root canal.
And here’s where it begins that I hate being a professional.
The dentist said that she’d evaluate the nerves and the underlying tissue after she had the site cleaned up and she’d decide then. Dandy.
She looked at the tissue, said that everything looked pretty good, but she’d make the final decision when she was placing the final crown. And two weeks later when the permanent crown was ready she looked at the nerves and the tissue and said that everything looked good and she didn’t think I’d need a root canal. WONderful.
I was expecting the new crown to be a little cold sensitive. New dental implants are cold sensitive, it’s just the nature of the beast. But over the last six weeks the new crown got more cold sensitive. Then heat sensitive. Then sensitive to vibration. And pressure. And sweet, and salt, and sour.
So that when I called my dentist on Monday to describe my symptoms the dentist didn’t even bother making an appointment for me to go see her to have the tooth evaluated, she just arranged a referral to the endodontist.
And I spent the week taking 600mg of ibuprofen every 4 hours during the day and codeine or gabapentin at night.
Somewhere in the past I noted that the best time to have surgery was when the idea of *not* having surgery was worse than the idea of having surgery. The same sort of thing applies to trips to endodontists for a root canal. Or three root canals as the case may be. That tooth has three roots. By the time I got to the endodontist yesterday my mouth hurt so much that I didn’t even notice the lidocaine injections.
So yeah. Sucky week, sucky mouth. Dental pain sucks. You can’t chew which plays havoc with your digestion because you’re either swallowing without chewing or eating only things that don’t need chewing. And constant infusions of NSAIDs aren’t really good for either your kidneys or the lining of your gut. And brushing your teeth, even rinsing your mouth with anything, becomes a remarkably special sensation.
But as much as I’d like to, I can’t hate my dentist for not doing the root canal before I spent a couple of weeks in pain and spent another $1200 to have a series of holes drilled in the $1200 crown that I’ve not paid off yet.
I can’t hate her because I know she used her professional judgement in deciding that I didn’t need a root canal. And professionals are people, we’re not psychic. Shit happens. So I am professionally obligated to understand this.
But god damn I really don’t wanna!!