Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Root Canal




This story is not for the faint of heart. So my dear MIL should not read on as it involves dentists, pain, and not a lot of happiness. 

I had a root canal today.  In January, I had a crown put on a tooth on the bottom left side of my mouth.  The tooth was cracked. 

All went well. The dentist quickly realized that I need extra numbing stuff because I have a larger than normal nerve system in my face.  Make of that what you will.  When I went in to get the permanent crown, they thought they'd just pop it on there.  Wrong. I'm sensitive. So the highly thoughtless dental hygienist gave me a shot without using Lidocaine. No numbing agent for a mouth shot. Are you kidding me?! Then she got irritated when I squirmed.  I was fuming by the time I left. The pain was so intense that tears squeezed out of my eyes and filled my ears.

Fast foward to June and my tooth still hurts.  It's sensitive to hot and cold and I haven't chewed on the left side since December. I don't want to go back there. But I can't drink without pain and sometimes get a little dehydrated unless I get stuff room temperature. So I go back.

The dentist was surprised I made it that long.  He gave me an antibiotic and scheduled the root canal.

I took the antibiotic.  It made me sick. I called for another one. It made me sick too.  I took it for awhile anyway. 

Today I went in and advocated for myself.  I was really polite but also firm.  I shouldn't have to take Valium or Halcion just to get a shot in the mouth. So the dentist did the shots this time.  The dental assistant gave me two different swabs with the Lidocaine.  He was as careful as he could be, but the shots still hurt.  And they didn't work.  So two more. It worked. I did this:

I put my earbuds in and listened to some french electronica. Very soothing.  Until he struck that nerve.

OWWWW.  Cuss word, cuss word, dirty word!! I threw in a few personal insults about his mother.  All muffled by the dental dam and an inability to speak well. I jerked and raised my left hand.  He stopped, puzzled. 

"Oh", he said. He looked at the assistant.  "She has a hot tooth."

What the hell is a hot tooth?

It's an infected tooth, one that antibiotics won't help since it's encapsulated.  And since the infection is acidic, the nerve-blocking and basic Novocaine didn't get through it.

In other words, they were drilling a live nerve.

Wanna know what he had to do next?

Seriously, if you're my mother-in-law, you may not want to read this. 

He had to inject Novocaine directly into the nerve. I had to hold still while he did it.  That made me a sweaty, heaving, crying, mess of a woman with uncontrollable shakes. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I've broken bones before without as much pain as I've felt in the dentist's office in the last 6 months.  But after 15 long seconds in absolute hell, my tooth finally went dead. I still felt a little pain, but it was nothing like what it was.

After the drilling, I saw the dentist sticking first needles into the canals of my tooth, then pins.  The pins, he explained to my giant eyebrows, were attached to a sonar to tell him how deep the nerve canals went.  Like a fish depth finder, only inside of my jaw.  Gross.  Fascinating.

Then out came tiny drills to dig out the nerves in the canals.  It was a little freaky to see inch-long drills being put into my mouth and then come out again.

It got weirder. It's never good when a mechanic, a plumber, or a dentist are in the middle of something and you hear them go "huh".  Kind of like "I didn't expect that", only with one syllable.  It's never a good sound. It's usually an expensive sound, or in my case, a painful one.

My eyebrows asked the question for me.

"Oh, you have four root canals instead of the regular three." He went back to work. My jaw started aching from being propped open for so long. 

I asked him about that when he was done. He'd only seen that a few times in the 30 years he's been in practice.  But he said he thought it went along with me having all those extra sensitive nerve endings in my mouth.

By this time, there were some little medicine-filled sticks in each of the canals.  I had to excuse myself for a minute and looked at them in the bathroom mirror.  It looked like someone shoved four
matchsticks into one tooth and left them hanging out.  They smelled like clover. 

I asked the assistant about the clover, because she's much better at guessing what people are saying.  She had the dentist explain. The clover is part of what they shoved in there because it's a natural anti-bacterial. 

They ended up just cutting off the ends of the sticks and putting a temporary cap on the tooth. The dentist was very sympathetic when it was over.  I think he saw the tears rolling out of my eyes from under the heavy sunglasses they give you to protect you from flying debris. "When you come back in for the permanent filling, we won't need to give you anymore shots.  All those nerves are dead and gone. I drilled them out." 

I said "Thank you", but I'm sure my eyes said "we'll see". 


  1. Oh Gosh! I am so sorry and I feel every bit of your pain. I sure hope when you go back the nerves are truly dead and no more shots!

    On the 4th. of July my 16mth. old grandson was jumping up and down in my lap. He popped my mouth and nose with his head. I though my nose was broken. Then I noticed blood. From his head and my mouth. He had hit me so hard it broke one of my perfect front teeth off below the gum. The pain hit like a ton of bricks. Guess what? There are no emergency dentist. It was the 4th. and all the ER could do was offer a liquid pain drops. They did not work.
    My dentist was out of town and finally on sunday afternoon I met him at his office and he gave me the shot that finally ended my horrendous pain for a few hours.
    He glued the tooth back in place hoping that it would hold until I could see the oral surgeon. It didn't and I finally sat through a 5-hour root canal. 5-hours because my root channels happen to have a J-shape at the top. He broke off one of the bits and had to work around it for over an hour trying to get it loose. It was not a lucky holiday!

    I'd rather go to my GYN everyday of the week than to ever see the face of a dentist again as long as I live! I hate the dentist!

    Feel better soon!

    1. Oh that sounds awful. I just can't even imagine. I don't blame you for not wanting to ever go back.

  2. That must have been really painful :( ! Take care and I hope everything will be fine!!