Sunday, May 19, 2013

Getting to the root (canal) of it

Improbable as it seems, the very tooth (the No. 15 molar, for those who know these things) that was capped by a perfect porcelain crown less than two months ago was throbbing in my mouth once again.

So it was back to the dentist.

He gingerly tapped on several molars in the general vicinity of the throbber with that metal dental instrument that has a sideview mirror on the end of it. Tap, tap, tap. Ummph. Yep. He found it. Just to make sure, he gave me a chip of ice to test its sensitivity to ultra cold. Ummph. Yep. Still the same tooth.

An intimidating array of sharp, pokey dental instruments awaits your mouth.
Dental technology has made great strides forward over the years, I thought. Ice. Dental picks. Drills. Tiny hammers and mallets.

When does the laser beam and infrared dentistry get here? Sigh.

"Root canal," said the dentist, confirming a suspicion I had. Or was it a self-fulfilling prophecy? He gave me the name and number of a specialist in High Point and I made an appointment as soon as I got home.

It had been 20 years, at least, since my last root canal. I remembered it taking at least two days and several hours per visit.

This time, I was pleasantly surprised, if you can use the word "pleasant" with anything dental. The entire process, from filling out forms to final payment, lasted about two hours. The actual procedure, once we waited for the numbing agent to take effect, took less than an hour.

I've decided that root canals are no worse than having a filling. It just sounds worse: Root. Canal. Ugg.

It occurred to me while I was in the chair that we were doing this whole thing bass ackwards, what with doing the root canal after the crown has been permanently cemented into place two months earlier. But somehow the dentist was able to drill through the porcelain without any damage to the crown. I guess. Amazing.

I hadn't been chewing on the left side of my mouth for about three weeks, and I'm supposed to not chew on that side for two more weeks while the root canal heals. I've been given a prescription for industrial strength Ibuprofin and that seems to be helping.

If there's one thing that bothers me, it's that this particular tooth has now rung up an uninsured bill of $2,400 between the crown and the canal. My wife said that tooth has cost us a nice vacation somewhere. And to think I still have 27 other well-rooted teeth in my head...

It's something to chew on.


  1. How are you feeling, Bruce? It’s good to hear that the procedure went well and faster compared to the first one you had 20 years ago. Technology truly has made things more convenient. Anyway, I hope that the pain of the root canal surgery has subsided already and that you would be able to eat normally soon.

    Eugenie Velasquez

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