Friday, March 30, 2007

Fcuked-up No. 31

As the anesthesia wears away, the numbness turns to pain. I am in too much pain with my number 31 to be considerate of my language. To the dentists, I have a decaying number 31 that needs a root canal. It is the 31st tooth, the molar in the bottom jaw.

The tooth apparently had a decay on it, then it broke and probably exposed the innards to help propagate the decay even further. I now have a super-tooth with super-decay in the back of my mouth that is inflamed enough to not become numb at all no matter how much anesthetic juice is pumped into it. Two doctors with twenty years of practice each have come across probably five such cases where the nerve wont get numb no matter what.

Root Canal Attempt 1, 27 March 2007, Tuesday:
Around five injections to my gums and jaw around the tooth help numb half my head, the right side half. Then my super tooth is ground and three injections in my "super tooth number 31" later, I still quiver with pain when they put something cold against the tooth. The pain does not reduce with the injections, it stays consistent. The doctor sends me home to finish up the anti-biotics that may help reduce the inflammation internally, keyword 'may'.

Root Canal Attempt 2, 30 March 2007, Friday:
Around four injections to my gums and jaw around the tooth, I don't seem to mind the numbness like the last time. I am just waiting in anticipation for the dreaded 'cold test'. I like the idea of thinking about the 'cold test'. It will either make your whole body quiver with pain and indicate that you have a fcuked-up tooth or you will feel no pain at all and get ready for the drilling (the root canal process involves drilling into your tooth to reach the nerve attached to your tooth and pretty much drilling that nerve out). Don't get me wrong here that I may have been nervous and anxious. I was very calm and assertive though the whole session. Anxiety only makes your nerves more sensitive. First cold test and the pain is lesser than before. More anesthetic is pumped into my gums and the cold test happens again, and it hurts like hell..and the pain lingers this time...probably for a good 15-25 seconds...felt like days though. The super tooth is further ground to facilitate the injection to penetrate better into the nerve and several failed cold tests later, the dentist announced that he has met his match.

The Verdict:
The difficulty in numbing the tooth probably indicates that whats left of the tooth may not be enough to save it and provide enough footing for the crown to sit on it. Now, I got the general indication that patients and dentists strive to save the tooth first. My case happens to be at the border-line for root canals and I am reluctant to take that chance. Further, I am not emotionally attached to the tooth to want to 'save' it. The other process is to completely extract the tooth (yippeee) and let the gum heal and the bone in the jaw heal, then screw an implant on the bone and put a crown on the tooth. While the doctors have their conference to decide on the future of my tooth, I have to spend more agonizing days pumping pain killers into me.

The Moral:
The moral of the story is: Thank you Wal-Mart for $4 generic drugs and thank you Benefits dept. for dental insurance. I don't even know how much I will be spending on this whole ordeal (even with insurance, the number looks like $1400+) but it is a blessing that my state-of-the-art pain killers are so cheap.

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