The Thursday before last was a day that will forever be burned into my memory. Not because of something exciting or wonderful though…oh no, it will be immortalized in my mind because it was traumatic.
I still remember the time of the appointment; that is something that usually vanishes from my memory shortly afterward. This appointment was for 2:50 P.M.
Trust me, there are more important tidbits of information that I choose to remember. Minor details, things like appointment times, are forgotten in order to save room for the important things I want/need to remember.
This appointment on Thursday before last was for a routine dental cleaning. I have these scheduled every three months because of my Type 2 Diabetes.
It is one of those things they keep an eye on for changes, such as my eyes once a year and my A1C blood test also every three months.
So I go to the dentist’s office; not merrily skipping along with a song but rather doing the adult thing. I showed up to sit in the chair and endure the hygienist scraping and prodding because I must; because that is what adults do. Or so I am told.
Not five minutes into the appointment the hygienist stops what she is doing and asks me if I was aware that one of my teeth was broken.
No, I reply, I was not aware that I had a problem like that or I would have made an appointment to see the dentist.
Again, she prodded the tooth in question and quickly referred to my dental X-rays radiating from the box on the desk.
Pointing to the problem tooth on the X-ray she found the reason I didn’t know there was a problem. That tooth had a root canal done on it.
Thankfully, when it broke there was no nerve in the tooth to cause me agony. I searched my recent memory for anything hard that I may have been eating.
Nothing that I could recall came to mind. None the less; there it was, a broken tooth – second from the back on the top left side.
Natalie, the hygienist, worked around the area and completed cleaning the rest of my teeth. As usual, once she was finished she went to fetch the dentist to check over my teeth and determine if there were cavities in need of repair.
Once Rudy, the dentist, donned his blue nitrile gloves and the mask was in place over his mouth and nose Natalie filled him in on her concern.
Gingerly he prodded the tooth and commented that it was indeed broken. It shifted under his touch and I felt the movement but still with no pain.
He told me that it was a large crack and that a part of the tooth was just hanging on. He could not leave it like that for fear of me swallowing it or causing further damage.
So, I was escorted from the from room where the hygienist does her work with picks, mirrors, lighted headsets, dental floss and various other cleaning apparatus.
Down the hall we went to one of the big rooms at the other end. I was motioned to take a seat in the chair positioned in the center of the room on the right.
In this room were the serious dental tools and technology that only a dentist would have a clue how to use. The drills, rasps, burrs, needles of freezing solution and of course more gloves and masks.
After putting on a fresh pair of gloves and fresh mask Rudy set to work in earnest. The very first thing he did was pull out the piece of tooth that was just barely hanging on.
My head was positioned this way and that; a look of concern crossed his face, the part I could see not covered by the mask that is.
He announced to me, as well as to his assistant, that the crack was serious and travelled all the way down into the jaw. There was no saving the tooth and it had to be removed.
Swiftly he lodged a q-tip type of thing between my cheek and my teeth in the top left side. I knew what was coming next. The dreaded needle!
Oh how I detest that needle. I know it is necessary but it is nasty just thinking about it being used on my tender gums that only have tooth and bone underneath to support them.
Sure enough, a very large needle was used to deliver freezing in the same place the q-tip type of thing had just been removed. I know it was a topical freezing to minimize the pain of the needle.
It could not minimize the visions of the brutal assault of the needle that flashed through my mind’s eye. Another needle was produced and jammed into the roof of my mouth just adjacent to the tooth to be extracted.
I was left to let the freezing take hold while Rudy and a new assistant prepared the trays and drill heads with all the necessary supplies for an extraction.
I learned something new that day. Did you know, if the tooth has had a root canal it cannot be simply grabbed with pliers and pulled?
It is because with a root canal there has been trauma to the root area; if simply yanked the tooth would shatter leaving pieces behind in the gum down at the jaw level.
That would cause an infection and would not be pretty, the good Dr.Singh warned me. It would be a mess and the gum would not heal up properly and I didn’t want that he assured me.
I didn’t know that! What followed once my face was numb was a series of drilling and pulling motions. He used a lot of force on both actions and I could smell the tooth being drilled. What an awful stench that produces.
The tooth must be sectioned and each piece pulled cleanly and intact to be sure nothing was left behind.
I could hear all sort of cracking and popping sounds bouncing around my skull as he wrestled each piece of tooth out of my jaw and discarded them onto the tray containing his hand tools.
Upon noticing that my knuckles were white gripping the hard armrests he suggested I try to relax and let him do what he had to do. It was for my own benefit after all.
Relax? Really? Yes, I am sure it is just another day at the office for you Dr.Singh but as for me, I am terrified.
Finally, it was over. I was weary body, mind and soul as gauze was deftly folded twice then pushed into the huge hole in my gums where a tooth once resided.
I was given instructions for care at home and the use of gauze pads, to be changed every ten minutes for the first hour. After that no more gauze in the mouth but let the clot heal all by itself.
I could not focus on what he was explaining to me but one thing made it through.
Do not disturb the clot… just let it heal. I was given a couple of packs of gauze and a printed list of the instructions he had just explained to me.
It is now just over a week since the appointment and my jaw has finally stopped aching. For the first few days afterward my whole face hurt so much I wanted to curl up in a ball in bed and be unconscious until the pain left.
I remember that appointment, I remember the hour and all the details. I don’t think I will ever forget.
Have you had bad experiences at the hands of a dentist? Are you one of those people with perfect teeth and no cavities? Do the needles scare you too?
Thanks for reading this far; if you are still with me. I do appreciate the support; especially for icky topics such as this. Oh, I have another cleaning appointment in 3 months…*shudder*. Should I go?