Cracked Infected Tooth Pulled

» From the moment it started hurting, I knew that tooth wasnt going to get better on its own. Dont know how I knew, but I knew. A distinct calm knowing (intuition?) accompanied the initial pain.

Three Stooges pulling a toothDenial however, is a powerful thing. So I waited a week, enduring the "discomfort" (.. to put it mildly).

Hoping against hope, praying. Living on Advil & aspirin.

Havent been to a dentist in .. a long time. Very long. Daredevil long.

Top-right-back tooth. I think they called it "#2".

When I could stand it no longer, I broke out the yellow pages and employed my vindicated intuition to select a dentist.

"I got a tooth," I said, "that's been bothering me a week. Doesnt seem to be getting any better. I have a fever, too. So I think it's infected."

"You better come in," she said, "and let the doctor look at it. We only have one opening today. At noon."

"I dont have much money," I said, before confirming, trying to camouflage the embarrassment.

"Dont worry about that," she said. "Just come on in and we'll work something out."

Fortunately, the bad tooth had some gold in it (fancy inlay/outlay), so I figured, if worse came to worst, I could use that gold to help pay my bill.

I was slightly relieved and actually encouraged that, when he looked in my mouth, the dentist didnt jerk back and say, "Holy Jesus!" or "Mother of God!"

"He only does that with the meth addicts," said the dental assistant, when the doc stepped out for a minute. She was very nice and good at settling me down. I trusted her.

"Well, you have a few problems here," the Doc said. "But let's take care of this one that's bothering you right now. And we'll worry about the rest later."

Drill that toothThe Drill

Out came the drill. You know that lovely sound. That high-pitched whir that sounds like no other sound anywhere on god's green earth.

He novacained me up nicely and I felt no pain. But I could tell he was doing some serious drilling. I could even smell something burning .. which I guessed was my tooth.

During one of his breaks, my tongue probed the problem tooth and explored what seemed like a gigantic hole he was drilling.

They (the Doc & his Assistant) were making conversation between themselves, about very boring mundane stuff. But I was thankful for this, because it helped take my mind off that horrible drilling sound.

I even chuckled at some of their sillier comments. Not easy to chuckle with a drill and a suction tube sticking out of your mouth.

She tried to get him to do extra work on an adjacent tooth, but he said, "Let's just take care of this one right now, and worry about the other later."

••• today's entry continues here below •••

Cracked tooth"Is that a crack?"

He was going to town with that drill for a good 20 minutes (seemed like an hour) when the girl, his assistant, asked, "Is that a crack down there?"

"Let me see," he said.

"Yeah, it's cracked," he said, after drilling around a little more. "It's hard to see these cracks on the x-ray. That's probably why it was hurting so bad. It's cracked in half. That tooth has to come out," he said, matter of factly. "You're already numbed up. Wanna do it now?"

I looked at the girl.

"You should have it out," she said, reassuringly with a nod. "It'll get rid of the source of that infection and help your other teeth."

I started shaking. "Are you cold?" she asked.

"No. Just a little nervous," I said. The idea of an extraction (surgery) at this point was unexpected.

Melancholy Trees Losing Their LeavesMelancholy Trees & a Wool Blanket

A floor-to-ceiling window stood directly in front of me. Through this large clear pane I watched leaves fall off the trees in the parking lot there. Silently they floated to the ground.

The trees were losing their leaves and I was losing a tooth, one that had been with me a good many years.

I was probably projecting but the sycamores seemed to share my sense of melancholy.

I must've been good-n-whacked cuz I never noticed, but it seems the girl had laid a heavy woolen blanket over me .. cuz later I noticed one covering me.

"Where'd this come from?" I wondered, trying to recall from whence it came. Like a glitch in my consciousness. Nevertheless, it felt good. Comforting. So maybe I was cold.

If they would've told me from the git-go that I'd be losing that tooth, I think I woulda been okay. But when I learned the tooth could be saved, my defenses dropped.

Never very pleasant having parts of your body ripped out with pliers. That's my experience, anyway.

Sometimes, along with the Novacaine, they shoot you up with a drug (added to the Novacaine) designed to constrict blood flow to the area, so you dont bleed like a stuck pig.

This drug supposedly has speed-like properties. So maybe that's why I was shaking, or at least part of the reason.

I know they did this when I had my tonsils out .. years ago, at the end of my Navy enlistment. I was shaking then, too .. even tho I was loaded up with Demerol.

Started right after they shot me up with this stuff to constrict blood flow to the area. Five or 6 injections around each tonsil.

(Tho, having the inside of your throat cut is a plenty-good reason for shaking.)

For the shakes, they gave me Valium, shot directly into the IV line.

"This might burn when it hits your vein," he said, as we watched it move slowly, in a jerking, stop/go movement, down the clear IV line.

Yeah, it burned. Like acid. Halfway up my forearm I felt it fork into two veins. Past my elbow the burn started to fade.

Very weird feeling .. like something was crawling *inside* my body. (I could never be a junkie.)

Four or 5 seconds later, I stopped shaking. Completely.

"Cut whatever you want," I said, suddenly feeling very relaxed. Instantly. Like you snapped your fingers.

No worries. Whatsoever. Downright jovial. Crackin' jokes right there in the O-R. "Somebody turn on the music! Let's get this party started." =)

Dentists are tricky fellows. They have a technique that doesnt let you see the medieval tools they stick in your mouth. They sorta come up from your chest area and then sneak them into your mouth.

Tooth extractionThe Extraction

So after 20 minutes of drilling, they started an extraction. I could certainly feel plenty of pressure.

And since the tooth was about an inch away from my inner ear, the cracking, snapping sounds were most alarming, let me tell you. Very loud. Amplified.

The doc was having a little trouble getting that puppy out.

"Let me try," she said, snatching the pliers.

Climbing up on my chest, she complained, "Working thru lunch gets old after a while." A look of focused concentration came over her.

From her mounted position she looked in my eyes and said, "Now hold still," (like I was a three-year-old) before she started yanking like a toddler fighting for a toy. When that didnt work, she clearly became frustrated.

"Okay. You wanna play rough?" she said in a much deeper & louder voice while shifting her position. (Wasnt sure if she was talking to me or the tooth.)

Then she planted (carefully) the sole of one of her high-heels on my forehead. "What we need here is leverage." [ Yes, I'm exaggerating, but not as much as you might think. =) ]

They finally got it out. I was exhausted. Spent. I was in that chair for what seemed like a very long time.

The stitches are starting to bother me. He put in 3. Silk. I need to go back later this week to have them removed. One goes up very high .. to where my cheek meets my gums. That one bothers me most.

I looked inside my mouth with a flashlight when I got home. Big mistake. Big, bloody gaping hole. A cavern. "Oh my god," I thought, shocked at the sight.

They charged me $175. I was in no position to bargain. I gave them $30. The office girl looked like she'd never seen a stack of quarters before.

He's keeping the gold 'til he gets his cash. Fair enough. There's more gold in my oral portfolio of precious metals if need be. Like an emergency ATM. Filling gold is typically 18-karat they tell me. The good stuff.

Back when I was dating Julie, she told me she never had a single cavity. Ever. I always found that remarkable. Hard to believe, actually. Doesnt know what she's missing. ■

Update - I received a donation for the balance. Thanks. Feels better already. =)

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on December 5, 2011 12:05 PM.

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