Gettin’ a root canal

8 06 2008

health minuteWell, my tooth finally crapped out on me. After what I can without exaggeration say was a long, blisteringly painful, sleepless night, I arose Thursday with the resolution to end the discomfort that day. Since dentists only work four days a week, but not necessarily a lot more hours, Thursday would be my last chance to get it fixed before, you know, going out of the country.

I went back to the dentist and waited for a couple hours before being told it likely wasn’t root-canal serious. Took my referral and headed to the specialist, and the office hadn’t had my appointment confirmed and ended up giving it to someone else. I waited around for a while there (and even grabbed some really spicy Asian food for a break from the action) and finally got in. From there I was given a variety of moderately painful tests that included a very cold gel being placed on the sensitive tooth. Whoo man. It was decided that the pulp’s health was compromised and would probably not recover to full health (hence why it could no longer adjust its internal pressure for the temperature changes being exerted on it).

Thus I decided to do the root canal and get it all over with, which I expected and was fully ready to do anyway… and coincidentally there was an opening that day and I could do it before going to BC.

The whole treatment was actually less unpleasant than the earlier crown placement I’d had. Root canals aren’t that bad. The one warning I’d give is if your tooth is really inflamed and sore to begin with, the initial shot of anesthetic might not be very effective deep inside the tooth. After all, blood flow to the area is somewhat limited and there are probably changes in tissue structure. I had a hard time getting numb and needed a few boosters in each canal before the cleaning could take place. With the proper amount of anesthesia, I felt no pain at all; but I did have to speak up (groan, really) when that twinge of discomfort started.

Here, by the way, is an overview of the process:

  • You get a rubber dam on your mouth that isolates your tooth and also keeps your mouth open and positioned coincidentally. This can make the jaw sore, and it can get a little smelly if you’ve been in the chair for a couple hours. Still, it’s necessary in order to have a safe root canal.
  • An access hole is created. Expect grinding sensations if going through an existing crown.
  • A little more drilling to get inside. It can get painful at this point; get more juice.
  • Drilling some more. More potential for pain. Get more juice if you need it.
  • Cleaning out the canals. Youch, this part can be ouchy if you’re not fully numb. If you are, it should just feel like someone grinding around in there, with no pain. If you aren’t numb enough, you may feel a very uncomfortable sharpness in there. Get more juice.
  • The proceedings may proceed with placement of rubber gutta percha thingies in each canal, or that might be saved for another visit. That’s what happened with me. Personally, my jaw was killing me by this point, so I wasn’t too eager to keep going. I’ll go back for this part of the exercise after my trip.
  • The tooth is sealed and filled up and the dam taken off. You have to stay off the tooth as best as you can; temporary cement is placed to seal the opening if you’re going to come back. If you haven’t already gotten a crown, you’ll need one when the tooth is restored. There’s a bit of a time crunch since the tooth will become more brittle without the pulp.
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Toothaches, etc.

24 05 2008

health minuteAs you know, I’ve been whining about nonstop toothaches for a while. They’re due to my highly sensitive teeth and likely the fact that large chunks were taken out due to extensive decay under my filling. I didn’t get to root canal level yet, but my tooth has been injured and it’s freaking out under the crown. The porous areas of the dentin get all excited and wacky when a stimulus (we’re not talking about Bush’s tax relief checks and BY THE WAY WHERE IS MY $$$ HEY GOVERNMENTOS ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME) reaches them. Well, they do stop every now and then. Thing is, I’m learning how to control them. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I’m finding that the clogging gel the dentist put on the tooth area is helping a little and that also reducing irritants as much as possible is a good idea. The most devious culprit so far is meat fibers. I find that these will set my tooth off horribly. Flossing them out reduces the pain almost instantly, but this depends on my having the floss on hand at a moment’s notice. Keeping my teeth clean has never been a strong suit of mine, hence why this tooth needed to be crowned in the first place, but doing a little bit of tooth caretaking seems to be one of the upshots of having hugely sensitive teeth.