Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The dentists all love me

Yes, the dentists, as well as their compatriots, the endodontists and the oral surgeons, all rub their hands with glee. Dollar signs light up the eyes. They clear their schedules, they work through lunch, they eagerly make follow-up appointments and call each other on the phone, consultating madly together, hemming and hawing in harmony and looking at my (very expensive) X-rays. Hmmmmm, they agree: It doesn't look good.

Not surprising. It never has.

Only two generations ago, people had all of their contrary, infected teeth pulled out--just pull them all out, said my grandmother. I used to wonder how anyone could agree to such a thing, but no longer. I totally get it. JUST PULL THEM OUT has occurred to me any number of times, but the suburban dentists I go to look shocked if you say this, and this is now apparently the equivalent of Dental Blasphemy. It's BAD for your jaw and your bite and all the rest of it. The problems just get worse. You are supposed to have teeth, after all.

I read about Chairman Mao, who had horrific, chronically infected, pus-filled teeth and endured awful pain, and I am inclined to forgive a lot. The poor man was under terrible stress.

Since this past weekend, I have throbbing pain in a tooth that already has a root-canal* and crown--never a good sign. Abscess? The tooth is, God help me, moving around a bit in my jaw (grandmother's voice: Just pull it out!) and there is what appears to be a "cloud" (what?) on the X-ray. The root is possibly infected, and the consult-a-rama has begun.

So, there they are, my dentist and and my fashionable endodontist, who wears designer scrubs to work. (At his prices, I'm surprised we don't get piped-in pharmaceutical heroin and live jams from Eric Clapton himself.) Yes, yes, they sing in well-known dental-harmony, it doesn't look good.

Follow-up appointment on Friday morning, which will make me late for work, then late for home, and a veritable chain reaction of lateness will ensue--all of which will make me significantly crabbier since I am in PAIN. Well, I thought, I possibly can at least lose weight since I can't chew anything... but no, I decided the one thing I can eat is ICE CREAM, and by God, I stopped to do some consulting of my own with Ben and Jerry on my way home.

I hope Chairman Mao at least had some ice cream to make him feel better, too.

*I've had 13 root canals in all, and I'm not sure how many crowns, since several have been replaced already.


bint alshamsa said...

Poor dahlin'! I need to have all of my wisdom teeth removed and I am so-oo-oo dreading it. I hope they are able to fix you up really soon and with minimal pain.


Holly said...

I found this post comforting, since I have also been going through teeth hell. My grandmother had dentures at the age of 17, my father has none of his back teeth and I'm headed in the same direction--all due to Periodontal Disease, plus I need all of my wisdom teeth out and there isn't an oral surgeon who will see me because I don't have insurance. Sucky.

May said...

Karloff has gone through dental hell. Very much like your own. And I understand the want to just pull it out. I did that opposed to getting a third route canal on the same tooth.

At some point, when people are prone to so much mouth illness, it would be nice if the gov't would pay for you to receive a mouth of perfect, fake teeth.

No matter how often you are in that pain, you never get used to it.

Donna said...

I've had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled and on three of them it wasn't that bad. I didn't even feel them being pulled, it was that last one, it was growing in sideways so the dentist had to crack it in half to get it out and even with a mouth full of novacaine I felt that sucker and it hurt! Once the novacaine wore off, those three were achy, yeah there was some pain, but that one, OWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW! Lucky for me I had tylenol with codeine for a couple days, that's all it really took. Anyway, hopefully those of you who need teeth pulled have them growing in straight so that they can be pulled out without any fuss and with a minimum of pain afterwards, otherwise, make sure you get a script for tylenol with codeine after!

I also have a couple crowns, I had some fillings fall out and there was too little tooth material (enamel maybe?) to redo the filling so I got crowns instead. Thank Gawd I've never had abscesses or root canals. I remember when I was a girl and my mom got one, she stayed in bed for days and looked horrible from how much pain she was in. You know when people get that look on their face? Yeah that. It was bad.

ArrogantWorm said...

Oh Lord, tooth pain is horrible, I hope they do right by your teeth. I'm sort of looking forward to my next dental trip, I'm hoping like hell it'll be the last one. My mom has the same outlook of 'Just pull 'em all' and knowing the condition her mouth is in, I don't blame her.

cripchick said...

hug hug hug

and lots of ice cream, clam chowder, and perhaps some mac & cheese?

LadyBanana said...

I never knew what toothache was until about 5 years ago and I now realise it's almost as bad (or worse) than giving birth. The offending tooth was root canalled but after about 2 months it all went wrong and sadly had to go..

I feel for you!

dave said...

13 root canals! I didn't know you could have that many! I know your original post is several months old, so I hope the ending was not as painful as this story!

Toohache agonies said...

Well, I know this has nothing to do with technology, but I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned in the past 2 days.

My first tip won’t ease your pain, but it will save you some. I’ve seen it on forums that you should put aspirin on the tooth where it hurts and hold it there. I mean this is just stupid. Aspirin doesn’t ease your pain like numbing sprays. It is meant to be ingested and works in your bloodstream. If you hold aspirin to the inflammation, you will however get a cool aspirin burn, next to which your toothache will be of secondary importance. Whatever you do, swallow the aspirin, don’t rub it on.

The single most helpful thing I did, which was almost the only thing that could ease my pain was salt water. And I don’t mean go to the ocean salt water (although that’s ok too), I mean the almost as much salt as water type, truly disgusting stuff. Just sip some in your mouth (try not to vomit, you’ll get used to it after the 30th time you do this) and rinse it around where it hurts. My pain could not be relieved by the medication, but salt water in 90% of the cases completely dissolved the pain. As you would guess there is a downside. In the better cases I needed to do this every 20 minutes, but sometimes I needed to repeat every 5 minutes. Near the end, my experience was that neither the medication nor the salt helped, but if I took the medication the pain remained, but the salt water could ease it. Go figure. Apparently there is no danger to this, although I am no doctor, but believe me, it is not pleasant. Sure beats the pain though. Oh, and yes, it does sting your mouth and tongue, just rinse with water afterward.

The third tip is also a prevention type tip. Whatever you do, don’t pick at it. Sometimes its tempting, because a nudge here and there with maybe moves your tooth in such a way that the pain will be better. No it won’t. You could cause an inflammatory reaction which is very, very painful. Rinsing is fine, but don’t touch or try to move it ever.

Pol said...

i live in Indianapolis and have 3 wisdom teeth. I brush my teeth 2 times a day, rinse mouth and visit my denist regular (his site is, and i have no problems with them!

Saundra said...

Truly, dentists really love us. Dental procedures may really be painful, but the results after wards will give you so much relief. As for me, I hated going to the dentists before. But there come a time that I have to consult some dentists in Edgewater because my wisdom tooth really hurts so bad, and thankfully, the dentist there really did a great job in extracting my teeth.

Anyways, thanks for the post!

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