I went in for my root canal. The first thing the dental assistant did was take some x-rays of Princess Tooth and her surrounding tooth friends.
The endodontist, Dr. Endo came in next. He was younger than I expected, but very nice. I liked him, and more importantly, I trusted him.
He said he’d looked at the x-rays of my mouth and asked if I’d cracked the tooth. My x-rays (newfangled x-rays taken with a computer) were up on a screen to my left, and Dr. Endo pointed out the large abscess (ugh!), as well as some slight bone loss. Then he said the remainder of the tooth was cracked, and he wasn’t sure if the root canal was going to save the tooth. He said he wouldn’t be able to tell until he got in there with a microscope, but warned me that if the crack went too far down, the root canal had a 100% chance of failure and there was no sense continuing.
Dr. Endo left the room and his lovely (friendly, caring) assistant put numbing gel in two areas in my mouth, behind and on the side of Princess Tooth. Once the gel had numbed me, Dr. Endo came back into the room and told me to close my eyes if I didn’t want to see the needle. I decided it was best if I didn’t see the needle, so I squeezed my eyes shut. Needles hurt, even when I can’t see them.
The assistant came back into the room with a beige square in her hands. She showed the square to me and asked, Are you familiar with dental dams? I wanted to say, Only as a safer sex technique for cunnilingus, but I kept that to myself and just said no.
She told me the dental dam would isolate my tooth during the procedure. She told me I’d feel pressure when she put it over my tooth, but to let her know if it poked or pinched.
She put it in my mouth and said, Do you feel the pressure? I didn’t feel a dang thing, so I shook my head no. She said, Oh, you’re good and numb. Oh yeah, I was numb all right. Swallowing felt weird, and I wondered if I was actually having problems breathing or it just felt that way because I couldn’t feel anything in the back of my mouth.
Then the assistant left the room again. I was in the room alone, leaned all the way back in the chair, with mouth wide open and a piece of latex over it while I wondered if I was going to continue to be able to breathe. It was not my happiest moment.
Finally (finally!) Dr. Endo and the lovely assistant came back into the room and started working in my mouth. Dr. Endo was drilling, and I could hear the loud hum of the drill in my head, but I couldn’t feel a thing. Oh blessed numbness!
Dr. Endo didn’t work in my mouth very long before he gave me the bad news. The tooth was way cracked and there was no saving it. Doing a root canal on it would be a waste of time and money. The Princess Tooth must be pulled.
I didn’t even cry about it. There’s only so much crying a person can do over one tooth. (Besides, my van has an appointment with a new mechanic , so I better keep some tears in reserve for that verdict.)
Dr. Endo said he’d write a report on my tooth and send it to the dentist who put on the crown. I’ll have to see her again, and we can decide if I’ll get an implant after the tooth is pulled. (Unless extraction + implant = < $1,100, the answer to the implant questions will be no.)
Dr. Endo said I should get the tooth extracted within a month. The abscess is still there and won’t go away until the tooth is out. Dr. Endo said to call his office if the tooth becomes painful or swollen (or painfully swollen, I presume), and he’ll write another prescription for antibiotics for me.
The cost to find out that my $900 crown is worthless and my tooth needs to be pulled? $400.