Okay, so I considered not writing about my teeth this week, but after writing about my current dental woes last week and the recent developments, I feel like I need to update you all on the state of my mouth.
I know, you’re breathing a sigh of relief that I’m giving you an update…
Last week, after I learned that I would need another root canal, I got the earliest possible appointment with the endodontist, which was (or rather would have been) yesterday. I wasn’t thrilled with living with the tooth pain until then, but my dentist gave me an antibiotic to clear up the infection, so I hoped the antibiotic and Advil would help stave off the pain until then. And I was in the worst pain I had ever suffered in my life, so I really needed them to work.
Thursday, I had a bit of swelling and a lot of pain, but it was liveable. Then, Friday morning, I woke up looking like this:
As bad as I looked, the pain was about one thousand times worse. I could actually feel the swelling on my eyelid when I blinked. I called my endodontist to get an emergency appointment. There was just no way I could wait. They agreed — I needed to be seen immediately.
After a bit of a wait, I was in an exam room, x-rayed, and waiting for the endodontist. I couldn’t help but notice that my x-ray that day looked very different from the x-ray my dentist had taken only 2 days before. Considering the fact that my pain and swelling had escalated so quickly, I knew that couldn’t be a good thing…
When the endodontist came in, he mentioned that my face was swelling, to which I jokingly looked shocked and said I thought it wasn’t noticeable. Apparently I didn’t amuse him. He looked at my tooth and admitted that he wasn’t sure what was wrong. There are very few reasons for infections to happen in a root canaled tooth, and the only two scenarios he could come up with were extreme bone loss or a crack in the tooth. He sent me to get a full head scan to confirm his suspicions.
As it turns out, I didn’t have the bone loss he expected to see (I asked if I was a medical marvel then let him know I was disappointed I wouldn’t be in medical textbooks when he told me no). He told me that he could go in to treat the tooth, but there was a 50/50 chance I would just need it extracted. If there was a crack, I would need it extracted that day, or I would end up in the emergency room over the weekend with how quickly the infection was spreading. Considering the odds, he asked me if I wanted him to drill into the tooth.
“Years ago, when I was originally told that I would need a root canal in this tooth, and I was scared, I asked my dentist if I should just get it pulled. And he said, if I were his sister, he would tell me to get the root canal. If I were your sister, what would you tell me to do?”
“I would say let’s drill into it and see, but recognize that there’s a 50/50 chance.”
“Okay, then let’s do it.”
As per usual, my endodontist was incredibly empathetic, coaching me through the needles until I was numb. He drilled through my crown into the tooth, and then I heard him say to the dental assistant, “Oh, I see the culprit. There’s the crack. Let me go take some calls.” And he rushed out of the room.
Cue my panic. I hadn’t had any extractions besides my wisdom teeth. Would I have to be put under? Would I need an implant after? How painful would it all be? The only thing keeping me from panicking was recognizing that my tooth was causing me so much pain and the only thing that would make the pain stop would be having it removed.
The endodontist told me that the front desk was making calls to find me a surgeon that could extract the tooth that day. In my flurry of anxious questions, he assured me that the tooth was so loose that it wouldn’t take them long to remove it. They shouldn’t need to put me under. When I got to the front desk, I learned that my appointment for the extraction was in 2 hours, just enough time to get home, do an hour of work, and then leave again.
It was soon, but I wished it were sooner. I just wanted to get it over with.
The next hour went by in a blur as I told my boss what was going on and completed a bit of work in a flurry of panic. It seemed as though I had just gotten home and it was already time to head out again to the next terrifying appointment.
After more painful sitting and waiting, I was brought back to the exam room by a young woman with gauges and braces. She started talking to me very sweetly and empathetically and I instantly relaxed. I let her know I was nervous and she assured me that the surgeon was a nice guy. We continued chatting about random things like pumpkin spice lattes (seriously, one of the other assistants walked past and asked if she could join our party) until the surgeon came in.
Like the endodontist, he was immediately taken aback by the swelling in my face…and I gave him crap about it, too. He told me that the swelling would take some time to go down after the procedure and I replied with fake shock that I was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to be in any beauty pageants over the weekend.
Once he took a peek at the tooth and numbed me up, the procedure took less than 5 minutes. Having them drain the infection out of the tooth was pretty uncomfortable, but I knew I just had to stick it out until the procedure was over, then I would feel worlds better. My mouth was then stuffed with gauze, and I was sent home with detailed aftercare instructions. Anticlimactic, I know.
When I got home, I continued working with gauze in my mouth and monitored how numb I was. The numbing feeling reached both my eye and my nose, which felt pretty trippy. After the numbing wore off, I did take some Advil before bed to help with the pain, but after that…nothing. I woke up at 4:30 the next morning and I legitimately could’ve run a marathon. I had no pain at all and I felt giddy! So this is what it feels like to have no pain in your mouth! I had forgotten!
Since then, I’ve been very careful to follow the surgeon’s instructions. My face is once again back to its normal shape, and my post-op appointment went well! I’ll have to figure out exactly what to do with this gaping hole in my mouth, but that’s a problem for future Renata!
For now, I’m just happy to not have any tooth pain. At this point, I mainly just need to catch up on all of the work that I missed in September due to vacations and teeth. Fingers crossed that I get it all done and that October goes quickly…oh, and no more emergency extractions!