Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dental Damn-ed

While the rest of the world talked about their fear (and loathing) of going to the dentist, I've quietly kept it to myself over the years that I actually love it. What wasn't to love? Getting to be the center of attention for a half hour while a man in a white coat and his posse tell me everything "looks great" and how "pretty" my teeth are. (Typical child of the '60s: fillings in my molars -- no sealants back then -- nothing else worth noting.) Truth is, not only do I love coming home with professionally polished teeth, I even like it when the scaling is done rough along the back gums and it bleeds a little. I once mentioned enjoying this to the hygienist, noting, "You probably hear that a lot" to which she -- looking horrified -- replied, "No, I haven't."

Well, all of that changed abruptly yesterday when one of my seemingly normal fillings began to hurt and was deemed in need of a root canal. What was purported to be a fairly routine procedure (not fun, but not the end of the world according to my friends and coworkers) turned into a LIVING NIGHTMARE when halfway through it he found there was "an extra hole -- or canal, I'm not sure which" in the back and when he tried to do what he'd done to the other two small canals in the front it LITERALLY felt like he'd RAMMED an X-Acto into my gums, causing me to SCREAM and nearly FLIP off the chair like a fish out of water. (I honestly didn't know I could be in THAT much pain.) He'd been at it for about an hour and said he'd basically finished the front two canals and decided to call it a day. Now I have to go back next week for him to do a bunch of X-rays so he can try to figure out what to do with the back part.

I'm completely terrified now. And I COMPLETELY get why people don't like to go to the dentist. If any of you are in the business of torturing people and want to try to talk me through this, I wouldn't object. Believe it or not, I don't "blame" my dentist. He wasn't being rough or anything, it's just that teeth and gums are VERY SENSITIVE and there's obviously something very touchy going on in there. I just want to be sure there's a way to address it that isn't a repeat of yesterday.


Anonymous said...

Umm, yuk. You need to go the Michael Jackson route and request--no, demand--the REAL drugs.

Matthew said...

I'm sorry to hear this! I'm TERRIBLE about going. I'm making an appointment today.

Anonymous said...

Your dentist should have refer you to a specialist. A general dentist should only do root canal therapy on simple anterior or premolar teeth. Molar teeth quite often have extra canals and require more specialized equipment to properly be done.
It also sounds like your tooth was " hot", meaning infection was full blown, I hope he prescibed you some antibiotics to fight off the infection and also some anti-inflmmatory meds as well as pain meds to alleviate the pain.
Trust me I am in the field.

Frank Anthony Polito said...

Remember our mutual dentist, Dr. Lenzi, in Madison Heights (across from Universal City/Mall)? Not ONCE did he offer me a shot of novicaine, or gas, or any pain killer whatsoever from the time I was age 3 until 18!

For years, I just sat in the chair, gripping the arms in pain as Herr Doctor drilled away my Kool-Aide cavities.

When he finally did offer me a shot during my freshmen year of college, I was totally surprised. "Why now?" His reply: "You're an adult."

Apparently, kids have a higher tolerance to pain... Who knew?!

Anonymous said...

Never, ever let a regular dentist attempt a root canal. Go to an endodontist. These doctors specialize in root canals.

Anonymous said...


If the DDS is inside the tooth and you have pain he can inject novocaine directly into the canal. Although slightly painful for a second that usually kills the pain instantly and you should be good after that. The next time you go the nerve tissue should be dead anyway so with the second visit there is usually no pain. If he is finding extra canals it would be my recommendation that you have the root canal done by an endodontist (root canal speciallist) as you don't want to have problems with it later on. Thoughts from a General DDS