Tag Archives: mouth pain

Potato/Turnip Mashup


Potatoes Beside Stainless Steel Cooking Pot

The neighbor gave the host family a bunch of turnips. (By “bunch, I mean about two dozen of varying sizes.) No one in the host family had any interest, so I felt obligated to find some use for them. My tooth was still giving me problems and was going to be pulled the next day, so I knew I needed very soft food. After looking at a few recipes online, I decided to do a mashed potato sort of dish with turnips added.

I went to the store and bought a 15 pound bag of potatoes. I didn’t need that many potatoes, but per pound, the 15 pound sack was the best buy. I guess I’ll be eating a lot of potatoes in the weeks to come. That’s ok. I’ll need soft food for a while.

In addition, I bought a box of vegetable broth, a large yellow onion, butter, and milk. (I also bought a carton of half-price chocolate ice cream, but that’s not part of this recipe.)

In the host family’s kitchen, I got out two large stockpots. I threw a couple tablespoons of butter in each pot and let it melt and get a brown, but not burn. While the butter was melting, I chopped the onion very fine. I threw half of the onion in each pot, and cut the potatoes and turnips I had scrubbed.

I didn’t peel either the potatoes or the turnips. I don’t usually peel potatoes for mashed potatoes or potato soup. The peels don’t bother me, and I’ve been told they offer added nutrition and fiber. According to http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/skin-potato-really-vitamins-5378.html, “The skin [of a potato] contains 5 grams of fiber, and you’ll get 2 grams of fiber from the flesh.” Also,

It doesn’t represent the amount of skin and flesh you would get in one whole potato, but another way to compare them is by considering an equal amount of each. One hundred grams of skins, which is about equal to the skin from two potatoes, has double the amount of seven nutrients, five times more riboflavin, seven times the calcium and 17 times more iron than the same amount of flesh. You would get the same amount of vitamin C from equal portions of the skin and flesh. By comparison, 100 grams of flesh is about two-thirds of a whole potato.

But if potato peels bother you in mashed potatoes or potato soup, by all means, peel your potatoes.

I didn’t know if I needed to peel the turnips, so I didn’t. I think the turnips had less of a peel than the potatoes did.

After reading other recipes for turnips and potatoes together, I kept the potato to turnip ratio about 3 to 1. (Since the turnips have a stronger taste, you need to use more potatoes, unless you want your dish to taste strongly of turnips. If that’s what you want, it’s fine with me.)

Once the onions were very soft and translucent, I added the scrubbed and chopped potatoes and turnips right on top of the onions. I made sure to leave enough room in the stockpot to add plenty of liquid. Once the potatoes and turnips were in the stockpots, I added about half a box of vegetable broth to each pot. (You can use chicken broth if you prefer.) Next I added water until the potatoes and turnips were totally covered. Then I let the potatoes and turnips boil until both were very soft.

At this point, a lot of the water had boiled away in one of the stockpots, so I was able to get all of the potatoes and turnips in one pot. I didn’t pour everything together, because I had more liquid than I needed. (I saved extra liquid for cooking whatever may need liquid to cook in later.) I mashed up all the root vegetables, and added milk as the concoction needed thinning. I left it pretty thick, but if I’d wanted to, I could have thinned it even more, until it was more like a thick potato soup. I added more butter to the whole pot, but added salt to each individual serving I ate.

It was pretty good. The turnips added an extra, unusual flavor kick, but did not dominate the dish. Eating the mashup did not hurt my mouth.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/potatoes-beside-stainless-steel-cooking-pot-45247/.


Thank You , Dr. Jay


Warning: If you don’t like needles, you may not want to read this post.

I’d had a tooth pulled a little over three years ago. The tooth wasn’t totally numb when the dentist started yanking on it, and it hurt. The dentist had to stop the procedure and numb the area further before continuing.

The way I remember it, there was a lot of tugging on the tooth, and I was fighting my body to keep it in the chair. My brain was telling me that what was happening in my mouth was UNNATURAL, and I should put a stop to it. Even once my mouth was adequately numb, my brain wouldn’t shut up about the unnaturalness of what the dentist was doing.

For the current extraction, I wanted my brain to be calm, so I took an Ativan. Actually, I took half an Ativan before I went to sleep the night before the procedure and the second half right before I went into dental exam room #2.

I’ll tell you what…I slept like a log the night before the extraction. The Ativan sent me off into the land of deepest sleep. I had to get up in the night for my usual trip to the toilet, but I barely felt awake. When I woke up the morning, I was in no hurry to get out of bed.

After breakfast, while I was brushing my teeth, the crown popped off my tooth for the last time. I put it back on my tooth, but didn’t use any adhesive. I figured I’d pop it off right before the extraction.

The Lady of the House drove me to the appointment because we all knew I shouldn’t be driving on Ativan. I didn’t feel much different than normal, just maybe a little slower and a little sleepier.

We arrived at Dr. Jay’s office about twenty minutes before my appointment. The doctor herself gave me a stack of paperwork to complete and accepted my payment. After filling in all of the blanks, I ducked into the restroom to pop off my crown and pop the remaining half of Ativan down my throat.

I sat down in the chair in exam room #2. I hadn’t been there long before the nurse led me into the hall for an x-ray. After the x-ray, she put a cotton swab with numbing gel against my gum. After a while, a male dentist (my dentist’s husband, I found out later, so his name is also Dr. Jay) came in to give me the numbing shots. Mr. Dr. Jay told me to open my mouth and close my eyes, and I did. He started giving me shots, and it hurt, but I kept my displays of discomfort to low moans.

They left me alone in the exam room for a while. A couple time I was asked if I was feeling numb. I said I was, but I was afraid I wasn’t numb enough. I wanted to be sure I’d feel no pain when the procedure started.

Mrs. Dr. Jay came into the room and said the procedure might be a little difficult because of my curved roots. She said an oral surgeon would have charged me $500 to remove that tooth. (Dr. Jay charged me $150.) She said not to worry though, because she is really good at extracting teeth. She told me that people have told her that she should write a book about extracting teeth.

Before she started to pull the tooth, Dr. Jay wanted to confirm that it was entirely numb. She started poking around in my mouth. I felt some pressure, but then I felt what would have quickly turned into pain had she poked harder. I raised my left hand. She stopped what she was doing and said she would give me more numbing medication.

My eyes were closed, and even if they had been open, I wouldn’t have been able to see where the dentist put the needle. From the way it felt, I imagined that Dr. Jay had jabbed the needle deep into my jaw. It hurt! It hurt! It Hurt! IT HURT! IT MOTHER FUCKING HURT! I screamed a wordless scream! Dr. Jay said (in her East Indian accent), Please do not scream. I quit screaming, but it hurt so bad.

After I’d quit yelling, Dr. Jay told me, We dentists have a saying. If you scream, we must charge you twice. Once for you and once for the patient that leaves.

I went from yelling to laughing. And I apologized for screaming.

While we were waiting to make sure that the medication had kicked in, Dr. Jay explained to me that the roots of the tooth were very infected. (Dr. Endo had told me the same thing, so I knew it was true.) She said that the infection is acidic, but the medication is a base. So the first round of the medication that hits the infection is neutralized. Although putting the medication right into the infection REALLY hurt, Dr. Jay made sure I wasn’t going to feel anything during the procedure. Thank you, Dr. Jay.

Dr. Jay had me open my mouth again. I made my own decision to close my eyes.

She told me I’d feel a lot of pressure because of the curved roots. I felt her working in my mouth, and I did feel a lot of pressure, but no pain. In just a few moments, she was no longer working in my mouth, and I said, Is that it? Are you done?

She was almost done. She’d pulled the tooth. The tooth was out. She still had to get some of the roots out of my jaw. She took care of them pretty quick. You are good, I told her, but she already knew it.

The nurse put a gauze pad over my tooth hole, and told me to bite down. Dr. Jay showed me the tooth, complete with curved roots, one of which was swollen with infection. Gross!

I was handed prescriptions for antibiotics (got to get rid of that infection) and painkillers (Tylenol with codeine, which I did not get filled) and instructions for aftercare.

I took a nap that afternoon, and ate mostly pudding and ice cream until the evening when The Lady made biscuits and I ate the very soft middles with honey. I took my medicine and let my body heal.

Good-bye, My Sweet Princess Tooth


Dear Sweet Princess Tooth,

We said our final good-by today, and I know we’ll never see one another again. I’m sorry I had to cut you out of my life, but the pain you were causing me was more than I could continue to bear.

We had a good run…over 40 years. I thought we’d be together until death did us part (and that you’d be faithful to me even some years after my death), but it was not meant to be.

I know the fault is ultimately mine. I ignored you for too long. I didn’t give you the love and attention and care you certainly deserved. I thought you’d always be there for me, no matter how I treated you.

When I realized I could lose you, I jumped in with every possible solution available to me. I spent time and money trying to save our relationship. I worried and begged the Universe to let us stay together. Unfortunately, everything I did was too little, too late.

Now you are gone, and I not only must I imagine life without you, I must actually live life without you. There’s no turning back. I can only go forward.

I love you. I always have. I always will. But I will learn to go on without you in my life. I know the pain will linger. There will always be a hole in my life where you once firmly stood. But I know the pain will slowly lessen. One day the pain of you will be gone, and I’ll be able to live normally again.

Thank you for all you did for me. I know I didn’t say thank you enough. You were a solid partner for so many years, and I do appreciate everything you did to help me.

I’ll never forget you. How could I? If the memories of you start to fade, I’ll only have to gaze upon your golden crown and remember you again.



Murphy’s Law of the Mouth



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.


Another Day in the Saga of My Mouth


Are you tired of reading about my teeth? If you are, close the window now, because this post is about my mouth.

When we last saw our hero (that’s me), I had called the possible bargain dentist and was told to drop by the office with the x-ray. So I made the drive out there. When I walked into the office, I was overtaken by the smell of the dentist office of my childhood. I don’t know what particular aromas came together to create that particular smell, but my nose told me I was in the waiting room of the dentist my family visited when I was in elementary school. I expected to see Highlights magazine and 70s era furniture, but upon looking around, I found myself back in the present.

No one was at the front desk. I signed in and waited no more than two minutes before an East Indian woman with “Dr.” stitched on the top of her scrubs came out of the back. I explained I had called yesterday and she remembered me. I produced the x-ray, and as soon as she looked at it, she said, “Oh no!” (Hearing a dentist exclaim “Oh no!” never makes me feel warm and fuzzy and safe and happy.) She explained that the tooth’s roots are curved. She showed me on the x-ray. She was right, the roots are definitely curved. The surrounding teeth have straight up and down roots, but tooth #31, the Princess Tooth, has roots curving toward the impacted wisdom tooth next to it. The doctor said if she tried to do a root canal on it, an instrument could break off in there! That sounds totally horrible!

The possible bargain doctor said I need to see a specialist.

I called the endodontist’s office and explained my whole situation to the nice woman who answered the phone. She asked me if I knew what tooth needed the root canal. I told her it was #31. She said the cost for a root canal on tooth #31 was $1,195. Her tone was so calm and matter-or-fact. $1,195. Wait. Let me spell that out. One Thousand One Hundred Ninety-five Dollars.

That was wildly more than I had even imagined. I was thinking it might be $600, $800 tops.

I asked the woman what kind of time frame I had to work with, how long I could wait until I had to have this work done. The good news is that she said this is not an emergency situation. She said if I wait years to take care of this, yes, I could lose the tooth. But I don’t have to have the root canal this week or this month. She warned me that the pain could flair up at any time, but said if I’m not having pain right now, I can wait. (The other good news is that I’m not in any pain right now.)

The Lady of the House recommended that I call the dental school and find out what they charge for a root canal. I called, and I’m waiting for them get back to me. The saga is not over yet.

(In light of all this dental activity in my life, I was amused to find out that March 6 is Dentist’s Day, according to http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/March/dentistsday.htm.)

Princess Tooth Revisited


business, care, chairThe 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.

My Teeth


Was anyone wondering about what’s going on in my mouth?

I’ve been neglecting my teeth for a long time.

There was a time when I had dental insurance. Those were wonderful days. I had my teeth cleaned twice a year. A dentist peaked in to see how things were going. I had any cavities filled and a night guard made to fit my teeth and keep me from grinding while I slept.

Then I hit the road with my boyfriend and dental care pretty much went out of the window. Brushing our teeth was hardly a priority, much less going somewhere for a dental check-up and cleaning. We were seldom anywhere long enough to find a dentist, much less make an appointment and get our mouths in there.

I will admit here (with much embarrassment) that I sometimes went days without brushing my teeth.

I began paying for this neglect in 2011. My teeth hurt. I thought it was from grinding at night. I often fell asleep without putting in the night guard, and I suspected sleeping without it was making matters worse. The pain went from bad to intense, and I was taking a lot of ibuprofen to get through the days and nights. I started making an effort to put the night guard in before nodding off, and my teeth hurt less. I thought that meant things were better in there.

In December of that year, I found out that the state of my teeth had actually gotten worse. A lower molar was infected and needed to be pulled. The tooth had quit hurting because the nerves were dead. There was no saving it.

I got a referral from a poor people’s dental clinic. They sent me to a dentist who pulled it for the low, low price of still more than I could really afford. Here’s a tip of the hat and big thanks to family members who gave me the money I needed to join the masses missing teeth.

I hit the road again (thankfully, alone this time) and while I was a little better at brushing my teeth every day (and sometimes at night too!), I wasn’t exactly paying close attention to my oral hygiene. When day-to-day survival took priority, it was easy to stop thinking about my teeth.

In the July of 2014, I started having excruciating mouth pain. I was back to taking ibuprofen several times a day.

I couldn’t tell what exactly was happening in the depths of my mouth, but it felt like my bite was all wrong and my uppers and lowers were no longer meeting up correctly. It felt as if my upper back molar, instead of resting on the lower back molar, was banging around on the gum behind the lower molar.

I drove a friend to an area dental clinic. During her appointment, I asked if someone could take a look at my teeth . I was allowed to self-report my poverty, and I was squeezed in. The dentist buffed down a tooth (the top one, I think), and that helped a lot, at least in the moment.

I thought I was all better, and I celebrated with a bean burrito. My relief was short-lived. The next day, I was in pain again.

When I probed with my tongue, it felt as if the gum around my bottom back molar was separated from the tooth. I could flap it around with my tongue.

I couldn’t chew and reduced my diet to instant mashed potatoes, smoked kippers, egg drop soup, mashed tofu in broth, chocolate pudding, and refried beans with cheese. Slowly, the swelling went down, and my gum quit flapping. The pain lessened. One day in August, I could eat regular food again.

Sometimes the pain would flare up. I’d pop an ibuprofen and eat mashed potatoes until I didn’t hurt anymore.

In late January 2015, I went to a dental clinic where folks train to be dental hygienists. The trainees who see patients are close to graduation and are under close supervision. All services are free. During my first visit,  twenty x-rays were taken. Then my mouth was examined prior to making an appointment for a cleaning.

I explained the problems I’d been having to the student hygienist, her supervisor, and an actual dentist. The dentist said that my wisdom teeth (which are still beneath my gums) had become active. He said  this activity had caused the swelling and pain. He recommended I have all four wisdom teeth removed.

Before I took any action regarding my wisdom teeth, I was back at the clinic for my cleaning. Moments after the student hygienist began poking around my teeth with her metal instruments, she started apologizing that she had flaked off a piece of my tooth. Soon the instructor was peering into my mouth, then the dentist. Long story short, the dentist determined that the student hygienist had actually flaked off a seal or a filling that had probably been loose, and I now had a deep crack in my tooth that needed attention they couldn’t provide.

I contacted a dental college with a clinic. The college requires payment of $69 before they consider accepting someone as a patient. They wanted me to have three consultations before they did any work on my mouth. They wanted to do another series of x-rays. I made an appointment, but I was unsure if this program were right for me.

In the meantime, The Lady of the House called her family’s dentist to find out what she charges for a consultation. The verdict? FREE consultation. AND the office manager was able to squeeze me in the next day.

So here’s what’s wrong with my tooth: it has both a crack and a hole in it. It needs a crown. The crown costs $900. Sigh. I called the dental school and asked them for an estimate of the cost for the same procedure. Their charge is $700, plus $69 for the consultation. I’d still have to go to the three initial appointments, and I have no idea when the work would actually start (or finish). Also,The Lady and her family trust their dentist and rave about how gentle and nice she is. I’m not sure I want a student learning to put in a crown using my mouth as the practice ground.

Today the dentist starts work on my mouth.  In about two weeks, she’ll be able to do the second part of the crown process. Hopefully, my nerves are still alive and kicking and I won’t need a root canal. A root canal would involve another dentist (a specialist) and more money.

I just want to be able to eat with no pain and not worry that I’m going to end up spitting my tooth into the palm of my hand.

And good lord, yes, I’m brushing my teeth at least twice a day now, and flossing as well.