Daily Archives: July 15, 2008

Why I Need to Marry a Dentist/Orthodontist

I have this tooth. Actually, I have many teeth but this particular one caused me huge grief. It’s a mutant tooth and like most mutations, it’s not particularly useful. Okay, so I’m a mutant, with four kidneys, an extra rib and an extra ankle bone in each foot. None of these bothered me much, except for the rib when I’ve been driving for more than three hours.

Then my tooth started to hurt. It’s crooked, like a few other teeth. I tried to ignore the twinges until they began to linger. Dentistry is expensive and I’ve been trying to save for a crown I needed on another broken tooth. So off I went to my dentist, who took an x-ray and said, “How odd, it looks as if your tooth has two roots.” But she gave it a try.

I should mention that along the way I’ve become overly sensitive to epinephrine. I’ll get a racing heart, tunnel vision, breathing constriction (or it feels like it) and numbing arms. Epinephrine is what makes freezing last when dentists drill into your teeth. No epinephrine means using other types of freezing that don’t last more than an hour. My dentist froze me and started drilling and I started writhing. She couldn’t freeze deep enough so she packed it in and sent me to the specialist.

When I saw the specialist she said, “How unusual. It’s going to cost between $800-1200 for the root canal…” Make that canals. Two three-hour visits later, with a lot of pain…the only way they know when the freezing is coming out is when I start to writhe and whimper… and she said, “Hmmm, I can’t get that second root. We’re going to have to do surgery.”

At that point I had hit the $1200 mark. I said, “I can’t. I have no more money.” They were quoting another $500 for surgery. But they said since my tooth was so unusual they wouldn’t charge me for the surgery. You’d think I’d leap at such a chance to have drills and needles and cutting in my mouth. Needless to say, it was like walking the gangplank with a musket at your back. There really isn’t much choice when your tooth is still hurting.

Now, dental work is never fun and I almost always will feel pain because the freezing seems to come out of the nerves first but will stay in the soft tissue of the lips and nose for several hours. It makes me a bit paranoid. I wouldn’t last very long under torture.

Which brought us to yesterday. I went in at 9:15 and they froze me up with about six shots. I thought, good, I don’t want to feel a thing and having these horrid, not exactly pleasant needles will be all I’ll feel. Should I mention that originally they said the surgery would be quick, less than a half an hour?

Thank god at least the soft tissue was frozen. They cut into the gum on both the distal and lingual sides. I felt like there couldn’t have been any tooth left with all the drilling, digging, pulling, prodding, sawing. I also get TMJ (trans mandibular joint syndrome) so holding my jaw open was its own type of excruciating. It was getting so sore that my jaw was starting to shake.

The types of pain I experienced ranged the whole spectrum; piercing, pinching, deep aching, sharp and deep, throbbing, visceral in ways I can’t describe. I am not exaggerating at all when I say they were having to top up the freezing every five minutes. I lost count at over thirty needles and those were only the ones I felt going into my palette or gum every time. And it barely helped. It seems I metabolize the freezing super quickly.  Hooray for mutant super powers.

Digging out the root, twisted and infected, was its own form of torture. And then she touched the exposed bone. Who knew bone could hurt so much. A deep lingering, shuddering pain that had me crying. I couldn’t help it. After that I was wired so tense with layers of pain that I was shaking head to toe. They gave me a rest and one of the assistants had to guide me to the bathroom because I think I was in shock. I was shaky for about another fifteen minutes, before going back for more dental fun.

They dug, they drilled, they sawed and they tugged. I say they because there were three people with their hands in my mouth. They had to refreeze me to stitch me. As I sat there, (they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to keel over), the assistant said, “We’re only going to charge you for materials. The surgery would have been $1500 but you need to pay $185.” I should also mention that while I was in Kansas I broke my front tooth…again. It usually last two years but it’s been less than a year.

When I was told I needed to pay another $185, I’m afraid it was the last straw in a traumatic morning. I’d been there for three hours. I couldn’t stop crying, but I tried to hide it, then told the specialist that I wouldn’t be able to pay for a while because I had another broken tooth that had to be fixed. She ended up not charging me, which I thank her for. They said it was the most unusual tooth they’ve ever seen and they look at special cases every single day. Oh joy, to be so abnormal.

Right now, my mouth aches, my gums are swollen and throbbing, and I can only eat mushy stuff. I look like a demented chipmunk, with one cheek so swollen it’s encroaching on my vision because my eyelid is pushed up. I spent yesterday afternoon sleeping, where I kept dreaming that I was sucking on keys and coins against my gum and that it kept hurting my stitches. That’s because even in my sleep I was hurting. I just hope to any gods in existence that the rest of my teeth have nice, healthy normal roots. Now I just have to find money to get the front tooth fixed…again, a crown on my molar, and I would imagine that eventually I need one on the mutant tooth. Should I ever need this type of dental surgery again, I’m gonna have them knock me out.

I won’t even get into the costs for braces in a mouth with several problems. That’s at least $10,000. Know of any single dentist/orthodontists, or better yet, one who wants to do a work of charity?

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