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Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Saga of Tooth 18

I have to go to the dentist tomorrow, to hopefully put an end to the drama that is Tooth 18.

Tooth 18 is on the lower left of my (and your) mouth, alllll the way in the back. Its a big ole molar, and the very last tooth, if you don't have Wisdom teeth. I do have wisdom teeth, three of them - but not on that side. Which is the problem.

I guess I must have had a cavity in that tooth or something. I don't know. It didn't hurt or anything, and then one day, BAM! major, massive pain. The pain was in my entire lower left jaw, and I couldn't tell which tooth was causing it. A trip to the dentist revealed a small cavity and an abscess. The dentist called it "beautiful," which was slightly disconcerting, but my mouth hurt so much that I didn't care. He said if I had a wisdom tooth on that side, we could pull the offender and let the wisdom tooth take its place, but since that happens to be where I'm missing said wisdom tooth, we scheduled an appointment for a root canal the following week. Dr A. prescribed Tylenol 3 and Penicillin, and said that in a week, we'd do the root canal, when the abscess was gone (or at least reduced.)

That was a long week, but the following would be much, much longer.

The pain in my mouth went away within a day or two of being on the penicillin, and I really, really toyed with the idea of not getting the root canal. But I am a rational woman, most of the time, and I knew the problem would just get worse. So the following Tuesday, I dragged myself to the dentist.

They put the gas on, precluding it with "No chance you're pregnant, right?" which made me laugh, albeit it nervously, and the assistant held up a wire with a bunch of fake teeth in varying shades next to my tooth, to decide what color to make my new Tooth 18.

The dentist had to use eight - yes, eight - full syringes of anesthetic to get my numb. That's like sixteen shots, and in between each shot, zinging agony as he tested the level of anesthesia. With a drill. The man is a sadist.

Anyway, once I was numb, the root canal was no problem. It took a long time, but the most uncomfortable part was the cold water that the assistant sprayed in my mouth at seemingly random points throughout. I was feeling pretty good (and my face felt humongous) as I left the office. "That was a piece of cake," I thought to myself.

Razorblade cake with barbed wire icing, but I didn't know that at the time.

Within a few hours, the numb feeling was wearing off, and the real fun started. My face didn't feel huge simply because of novacaine - it was unbelievably swollen. It looked like I had a small orange in the side of my mouth. Now let me tell you, that is not a reassuring sight six hours after a root canal. On top of that, there were cuts all along my gumline and on the inside of my cheek, and the corner of my mouth was cut in three places from being held open with a retractor. The tooth itself didn't hurt, of course, because the nerves had been removed. It was the jawbone and everything else that hurt, and the pain was absolutely unbelievable.

I cried. And I don't cry.

This unbearable pain went on for a week. I couldn't eat anything except milkshakes, except I'm lactose intolerant, so that only worked for just so long. Then I switched to mashed potatoes and soup, but they were both full of salt and burned the sores in and around my mouth. Meanwhile, I'm bawling my eyes out and cursing the dental industry as a whole.

Finally, a full week later, the pain had subsided to the point where I could quit the painkillers. And when the painkillers wore off, the depression set in, but that's a different story. I still had to apply mass quantities of orajel to the sores in the corner of my mouth and along the gumline. I went through three tubes of orajel during this time. Luckily it was on sale.

Then, on Wednesday, eight days after the procedure, I was using my finger to rub orajel on the sore at the gumline when I felt a weird deflating sensation. That's when i realized that the sore all along the gum was actually a blister. I could puke thinking about it now, but that the time, it felt like pure relief. The day after that, nine days post endodontic therapy, there was finally no pain whatsoever, and I could eat normal food.

So. Fast forward eleven days, and that would bring you to tomorrow, October 20th. I think I am going to die tomorrow, at the hands of my sadistic dentist (who is actually young and quite attractive with a wife who looks just like my best friend, but that's moot.) Tomorrow, the $600 fake tooth I had to order will be put in.

Which means the temporary fake tooth will be yanked out with some sort of dangerous instrument, and the new tooth (which is not gold or platinum, unfortunately) will be glued on.

This cannot end well.

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