I've always been pretty lucky when it comes to dental issues. I never had braces. My teeth are/were naturally fairly straight. And until a few years ago I had only ever had one cavity as a kid.
And yet I've had 2.5 root canals in the past week.
It hasn't been pretty.
I also didn't have a fear of dentists until 1-2 years ago. Now my fear is bordering right on paranoia.
Let me explain.
A few years ago, during my Peace Corps paperwork process, I had to go to the dentist. I found the cheapest one in Roanoke and even took a coupon with me. She took some x-rays and declared me good enough for the PC. But she did mention that I had 2 "almost" cavities, and encouraged me to come back for fillings before I left with the PC.
Well, as you might recall, I never did leave with the PC, did I?
So I put off getting the fillings, because, hey, they weren't really cavities anyway.
Earlier this year I finally got around to it (because I saw another coupon for that dentist, and because I had severe pain in one of the teeth she had warned me about). She gave me a filling in that tooth, and at a second appointment, put in a filling in the other problem tooth.
During all 3 appointments I was very disappointed with how I was treated, the state of the exam room, and even went so far as to complain to the health department after my third appointment. Why?
I SAW A RAT RUN ACROSS THE FLOOR!!
But quite frankly, I was seeing a dentist that takes coupons. So what did I really expect?
Oh and she didn't use any novocaine on me during one appointment, but did use topical lidocaine. It was incredibly painful, but she insisted I would be fine. The only reason I was fine was because I had Lortab leftover from a kidney stone at home. It was horribly painful and I vowed to never return to her again.
For the past year or so I have had very sensitive teeth. It was a new development, and not one I enjoyed. Sensitive teeth suck! Hot food, cold food, etc. It all hurts.
About 2 weeks ago the pain in one tooth became constant, and not just a sensitive tooth. I could tell a part of the filling had chipped off, so I decided to go to a new dentist.
As you know, I've recently moved, so I had to find a new dentist. I looked up my childhood dentist, but he's not taking "new" patients (apparently being one of his very first patients over 30 years ago doesn't grandfather you in), and he wasn't covered by my insurance anyway. I looked up the nearest dentist with my insurance, and managed to get an appointment next day (due to a cancellation).
He took one look at my teeth and some x-rays and immediately grew concerned. In a nutshell, the past dentist drilled out a hole in one tooth, but never put in a filling. And in the other tooth, she drilled out a hole, put in a filling, but didn't complete fill it. So a large cavity had formed behind the cavity. And there was a cavity in the next tooth over due to the random hole she drilled.
He warned me the random hole tooth was likely dead and would probably need a root canal. He worked on that one first.
A few seconds after he started he stopped and said, "The good news is that the novocaine is working and you can't feel anything. The bad news is that your tooth just shattered. But the file I was using is stuck up inside your tooth. Before the numbing wears off you need to get over to the emergency endodontist to get fixed up. NOW."
Several hundred dollars and a few hours later, I had my first root canal.
A few days later I returned for a second one at the dentist's office.
And that's when he warned me I needed a third one.
So I went back today for what we hoped would just be a filling. Ironically, this was the tooth I thought was hurting me in the first place.
Oh, did I mention the other 2 teeth were dead?
Unfortunately I was running late to my appointment today. If I had been on-time, he could have finished.
Yet again he got started and moments later I heard the assistant/tech/hygenist (I have no idea what she really was. She was shadowing for CE credits- that much I caught.) gasp. And the dentist apologized. "Well, the good news is that the novocaine is working. The bad news is your tooth just shattered. Again. And we don't have time to finish the root canal."
So he put on a temporary filling, and I am supposed to go back next week for MORE FUN!
(Hmm... my painkillers may be kicking in. But I digress.)
Here's the good news, for as scary as root canals are supposed to be, they haven't bothered me much. The novocaine works. I don't feel too much of it. There is a great deal of tension and anxiety as a result of the non-medicated experiences with the crap dentist in Roanoke. And I was crazy sore after the first root canal as a result of having my mouth forced wide open for close to 5 hours. The endo was kind enough to prescribe some painkillers that made the following few days manageable. But really, the procedures haven't been that bad. Although I admit, I was also taking painkillers to keep calm before I even went in.
Tonight while at the movies with a friend, my temp filling broke. What is left of my real tooth is pretty small, with a very sharp edge it turns out. And there's about half of the temp filling still stuck in there. But I have a very sharp tooth scraping the inside of my cheek.
Oh and let's not forget there's also some serious anxiety now that at any moment the rest of the filling could come out and I will have an exposed nerve. I don't need to actually experience that to know if it were to happen it will hurt like hell. So yeah, some anxiety over that.
And all this for someone who has only ever had 3 cavities before in her whole life. 2.5 root canals.
And you had better believe I'm requesting all my records from the crap dentist for the new dentist to review. And once I have the paperwork evidence, I am reporting her disasters to the state board. Because this is ridiculous.
I do have one positive thing to say. No, make that 2 positive things to say. 1- I have awesome dental insurance. Turns out root canals are covered 80%, and appointments don't have a co-pay. And I only had a $50 deductible. Thank goodness for that. 2- My new dentist has been incredibly kind about this whole thing. I think he feels worse about it than I do.
And since I have no shame, enjoy this lovely picture of me halfway through my first root canal at the endo office. This was actually on Halloween. I was a little disappointed that my droopy face finally got better right before the trick or treaters showed up. I thought I had a great scary face!