Root Of The Matter

A few weeks ago, I took a bite of pizza crust and all of a sudden, it felt like someone had taken a nail file and jammed it into the center of my molar. Making a face, much like I had slurped on a lemon half, I explored the area with my tongue. Nothing of note felt wrong, so I chalked the pain up to biting the crust the wrong way. Is that even possible?

Days later, Friday to be exact, a tenderness settled in to the back of my mouth. As we all know, these kinds of things only come to light the day before the doctor’s office closes for the weekend; that includes broken fillings, sinus infections, fevers with sore throats, strange, itchy rashes and any other ailment that will leave you feeling crappy until Monday morning rolls around. Fortunately, I got a dentist’s appointment right away for that Monday and after a few x-rays, was told that I needed a root canal.

I may be dating myself, but those words scared the life out of me. I imagined a jack hammer drilling a hole the size of Mercury in the back of my mouth and ripping out a vital root that connects my facial muscles to my taste buds. In reality, that’s not even a thing. Your taste buds are not controlled by your facial muscles. But you can’t argue with my imagination.

While I waited for the endodontist to check things out a day later, my face decided to take matters to a “whole ‘nother level”. It began to swell on the offending tooth’s side until I looked like Marlon Brando in The Godfather with his bulgy jaw line.  My face was lopsided and appeared as if I was hiding a full chicken patty in my cheek. I was beginning to understand what chipmunks must go through when they stockpile nutrients for the long winter season.

On the day of the root canal, I was given ample amounts of Novocaine (translation; at least three or four times a very long, thin needle went into my gum and surrounding tissue) before the process began. Using a high-powered microscope, my endodontist located the root and began to access the affected area. While I didn’t know all the steps, I do know there was a lot of drilling and cleaning with a series of different colored tiny instruments. “Give me a blue 23 please.” My endodontist called to his assistant. “Now a red 14. Great. Let’s do a green 20.”

“Do you have anything in pink?” I joked.

“Of course.” I was told. “Pink 18.”

An hour later, the first step was done. My tooth was packed with medicine that would ensure that the root canals were ready to be permanently filled and I was sent home with antibiotics to help me battle looking as if I was Mr. Brando’s twin. About two weeks later, I was finally ready to have the tooth sealed up. After another round of Novocaine, my endodontist finished the process and filled the canals with sealer. At last, my tooth root had been officially detached and packed. Never again would I feel anything as I chomped on foods which required that molar. Two more visits, to be fitted for a temporary and then permanent crown, and I was as good as new.

Overall, it wasn’t so bad. The worst part for me was the rubber dam that covered my throat so that I didn’t swallow any debris; that felt like I was blowing up a balloon in reverse.  My advice? If you think you just bit something the wrong way and you have that stabbing pain…get your dentist on speed dial, and pronto!

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