I’m not sure if “choice” is the right term here. About ten days ago, my #12 tooth, upper right, next to my front two, started to twinge. I’ve had twinges before, usually a result of being too quick with my brushing in previous days or too many sugary drinks. It lasts a day or two, I adjust my oral hygiene and intake, and it goes back to normal. And I make a note to have the dentist check it the next time I’m in.
A little dental history
But when it comes to going to the dentist, my history is not good. Growing up, dental visits were not covered by my parent’s health plan, so I remember going once when I was about 9 or 10. I had one cavity, and the tooth was already loose. No muss, no fuss, off we went.
My next visit? I was about 24 or so. I had a bit of money and some benefits from work, so I went for a clean and inspect, all good. Then I didn’t have benefits for awhile, so probably age 28 was about the next visit. After that, I’ve gone a little more regularly, but it’s far less than the recommended frequency.
I brush, I do okay, no major problems, but I have a really bad gag reflex. Then about 15 years ago now, I went for a dental visit to a young dentist downtown. I liked the guy, he seemed good. It was a disaster. I ended up with some latex stuck in my mouth, felt like I was swallowing a balloon, and after I started heaving, he couldn’t remove some pick thing from my mouth with the latex until I calmed down. I feel, no word of a lie, that if I had eaten breakfast that morning, I would have had lots to throw up, and I could have choked to death. It was that bad. It freaked me the f*** out.
I used to go for cleanings to a dentist downtown, but she kept hiring new hygienists, underpaying them, they move on when they have experience, and she hires another new recruit. Great for her business model, and lots of people do it I know, but it was hell on my gums. I felt like they were jabbing me every couple of seconds. I could last about 30-45 minutes, but any longer than that, and I would start to climb the walls. I couldn’t move away, but the rest of my body would start twitching like I was a junkie jonesing for a fix.
There had been one hygienist there, and she left to go work somewhere in Barrhaven area. I wish I knew her last name, but I didn’t. I tried finding her, without seeming too stalkerish. She was about 35, her name was Vicky, she had red hair and used to work downtown. I called a couple of clinics one time not too long after she left trying to find her, I would have followed her to any practice. She was awesome. I relaxed and she never JABBED ME WITH A PITCHFORK IN THE MOUTH! But after about 2 calls, I realized no matter how I worded it, I sounded like a stalker. Not a good feeling.
Anyway, I eventually tried a dentist out in Kanata that I had heard good things about, she advertised quite heavily on the radio and someone I knew had used her so I gave it a go. I managed a couple of cleanings with her, but eventually it became clear that over time, I’m getting worse, not better. I just can’t stand the experience. When the dentist decided I needed some fillings, she referred me to a dentist near me that does sedation dentistry.
Back to the tooth at hand
Before I digressed with my oral history, I was basically saying that I’ve had small twinges before and I make a note of them until the next time. But since I need sedation, I can’t just pop over anytime for a dentist appointment. It takes more work, I need someone to bring me home, pretty much wipes out the day, etc. So I intentionally forget and don’t bother scheduling something until I think it’s “time” again. My goal was to go sometime this year, but I hadn’t made it there yet, and with Covid, I figured late 2021 was a better bet.
Then I got a twinge that didn’t go away. In fact, it got a lot more acute for pain. And even my bottom tooth started hurting for some reason. As it escalated, I called the dental office for perhaps some emergency care, but sedation is hard to arrange for “emergencies”. Emergency is easy; with sedation is hard. But in the meantime, they gave me an antibiotic and the pain went away in about 36 hours. Almost completely gone. On the pain scale of 1-10, I had been hitting 6s and 7s and then 7s and 8s at the peak; then it went down to about 4s; and on the weekend, that went down to 1.
They had a cancellation and were able to take me in today, so I jumped at the appointment. It was just a check-up to see what was going on. Two x-rays, a bit of tapping on the teeth.
And the result.
The best news is that about 18 months ago I was having some problem with my back molars that made me wonder if my other 2 wisdom teeth were making an appearance…whatever it was, it wasn’t those. No sign of them, so I’ll probably never see them.
The lesser but equally good news is that after being referred to him last time where he did 4 cavities at once, I have no cavities now. Yay.
The less good but fully expected news is that whatever is going on with my tooth was not “cavity” related but instead was something root-ish. Or as he put it, my tooth is too close to my root. I’ve tried talking to it about social distancing but it’s not listening. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I do indeed need a root canal.
The bad news is that in order to do the root canal, and to do a cleaning at the same time (hey, I’m already there!), they need me to be in the room for 90 minutes (30m root, 60m cleaning). And it has to be the same room. Which means their first opening is…dun dun dun…December 17. Blech. If my pain returns before then, I’m supposed to call. But my antibiotics will run out Wednesday so I’ll have to cross my fingers it doesn’t get infected again. Sigh.
Andrea has already arranged for someone to drive her over to pick me up afterwards so she doesn’t have to take a cab. I’ll take one there, not much choice, as I can’t drive that day.
Today I chose to go to the dentist, and to make plans for a visit with sedation in December. Not exactly the way I wanted to tick the box this year for the dentist, but I’ll tick the box anyway. At least it seemed relatively safe as nobody was around.
What choices did you make today?