The last time I wrote of my teeth, I had a temporary crown on my farthest back lower right molar. (That’s tooth #31, for those of you who keep track.) (That’s also the tooth I call my Princess Tooth, since it wears a crown.) I was waiting for the permanent crown to be constructed so the dentist could cement it in my mouth.
On the morning of the day of my put-the-crown-in dental appointment, I was eating cereal for breakfast. I felt a crack and ended up spitting half of the temporary crown into my hand. I immediately called the dentist’s office and was told to come in at 10:30 in the morning instead of 2:30 in the afternoon.
I was so ready to be finished with all this dental business. I was ready to be finished spending large sums of money. I was certainly ready to be finished with the mouth pain.
It was apparent that the office manager had not told the dentist that the temporary crown had cracked in two and detached from my tooth. Both the dentist and her assistant were surprised when they looked at my tooth. Hey folks, I wanted to shout, ever hear of the concept of communication?
With the old temp crown out, we began the tedious process of adjusting the permanent crown. The dentist would pop it out of my mouth, do some work on it (grinding? buffing?) then put it back in place in hopes that now my left back teeth touched. In and out. In and out. The good part of this process was that I didn’t feel any pain.
Then they were moving me into an upright position while the assistant said she was going to take an x-ray. That seemed a little weird, but whatever. I figured they knew what they were doing.
After several minutes, the dentist came in and announced that I had an abscess. An abscess? I realized at that moment that I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant.
An abscess? I asked her. Like an infection?
(An abscess is “a confined pocket of pus that collects in tissues, organs, or spaces inside the body.” EEEEEWWWW!!!! That is so gross!)
Yes, she said, an infection. Then she said she was going to give me antibiotics. (Have you ever noticed that medical professionals often say they are going to “give” some sort of medication, but what they actually mean is that they are going to give you a prescription so you can trot the piece of paper on down to the pharmacy and then pay for the actual drugs?)
It was at about that point that I made a comment about not having any money left.
Then the dentist told her assistant to get me a referral and the assistant asked what the referral was for. The dentist said one word: Endo. (Meaning endodontist, a dentist concerned with the study and treatment of the dental pulp, not as defined by the Urban Dictionary “the bottom tips of the marijuana plant that accumulate the most resin and crystals after being hung to dry.”)
The dentist then told me, guess what, I do need a root canal after all.
(Ok, the dentist was more professional than that. She’s very nice. But she also was talking from behind my head. She never came over and looked me in the eye and explained everything to me.)
And I started crying. Not sobbing. Just tears leaking out of my eyes and dripping into my ears. (Oh, yeah, I was in the dental-chair-tilted-back position again.) I felt very overwhelmed and frustrated. On top of the other complications in my life, I had just been told that the insufficient amount of money I still had was pretty soon going to be zero money. So I was crying.
And then the dentist realized I was crying and said, Are you crying? What surprises me is that so few people burst into tears upon hearing bad dental news that the dentist was surprised at my tears.
When I left, the dentist gave me not only the referral to the endodontist, but also the card of a regular dentist who does root canals. I think she was telling me the dentist might hook me up for a lower than normal price, but I’m unsure. She also gave me the x-ray they’d just taken so I could let the possible bargain dentist see for him/herself exactly what was going on.
Then I went to Wal-Mart to get my prescription filled. Have you tried to navigate a large Wal-Mart pharmacy? There are multiple windows and you can’t see the drop-off window from the pick-up area. I was in the wrong place and didn’t understand for a moment where I was supposed to go. (I saw another woman have the same experience, so I think the flaw is with Wal-Mart’s system, not me.) The good news is that the antibiotics only cost me $4. The bad news is that it took an hour to get the prescription filled.
It was raining outside and I didn’t want to walk back out to the van, so I wandered aimlessly through Wal-Mart for 50 dragging minutes.
I messed around on the laptop all afternoon while the Lady of the House napped on the couch, but finally forced myself to call the possible bargain dentist around 4:30. They want me to “drop by” their office (fifteen miles from where I am staying) tomorrow with the x-ray so they can take a look at it and tell me how much they will charge for my root canal.
So now I have a $900 crown and a pocket of pus in my mouth. Apparently the antibiotics are going to help fight the infection, but I still need the root canal in order for my mouth to heal. I guess if I don’t have the root canal, I could lose the tooth in which I’ve invested so much money.
I should have had the fucker pulled in the first place.