Drill, Baby, Drill

May 18, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill.

British Petroleum? Louisiana? Oil? Gas? Pollution? Capping leaks? Nah! Caps on Teeth! Old caps that break down, develop holes and  cavities. Almost like oil wells, only nowhere near as newsworthy.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having pain on and off in my mouth. Luckily it started just before a regularly scheduled, routine, 6 month checkup. My dentist found a little hole in a cap. A week later, he repaired the tooth. I hoped all would be well, but he warned me that I might continue to experience problems.

Turns out I did, experience problems, that is. I continued to have pain on and off. Monday morning I called the dentist’s office to ask what to do. I spoke with the office manager and decided to hold off a little longer. Monday turned out to be a good day. No real pain. Some pressure but nothing bad. I thought things were getting better.

Then it happened. On my way home from the gym I bit into an apple. I bit, and chewed on the side of my mouth opposite from the problem tooth. A little piece broke off and was immediately attracted to that problem tooth. It just scooted right across my mouth! I experienced an immediate, sharp, pain. You would have thought I bit onto something hard. The pain didn’t quit for hours.  Somehow, I got to sleep.

When I woke on Tuesday I was pain free, but real concerned. I called the dentist first thing.

By noon I was in the chair at the endodontist. He did all kinds of poking, prodding, pushing, shocking, to see what was going on. They took X-rays.  Turns out the tooth with the problem was not the one just worked on. To be sure he knew what he was getting into, the dentist did a 3-D X-ray and found a pretty good size infection hiding from the normal views. (Did you know about 3-d x-rays? It’s another big, fancy piece of equipment that I had never seen before.)

So, away he went with all manner of drills, files and other equipment. He occasionally asked the assistant for an “excavator”. I had visions of a little guy in a piece of miniature road construction equipment moving around my mouth, digging a big hole to get rid of crud. About an hour after starting, the first phase of care was done. My mouth was sore, but closed.

So, why write about my dental problems?

When you have had other serious health issues, you worry. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind that the pain was due to some really serious medical problem, rather than a bunch of old fillings and caps and stuff from the time before fluoride and floss and stuff like that as a regular part of our lives.

And the thought that I had a possibly “hidden” infection that could go untreated was another nightmare, as that was the likely cause of the valve problem that required surgery.

In the grand scheme of things, my problems are pretty small but they are mine and I’ll do my best not to let them get blown up out of proportion.

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