Dental Work

I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time in dental professional’s offices since March. I had put off my regular teeth cleanings, as I am wont to do, since we moved to the area 3 years ago. I just get such terrible anxiety about the dentist that I find it’s much easier to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away. This post is whiney and long winded, so you probably don’t want to read it.

At the end of February, a piece of tooth or filling came out while I was flossing my teeth so that sealed the deal. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had another small hole in another tooth that I kept having to pick food out of too. So I Googled “sedation¬†dentistry” and found a dentist that had great reviews. Although I didn’t need to be completely under (hello, that pill is like $600!), I wanted someone who would be sensitive and patient with me and who would understand when I asked for nitrous and not make me feel like the big baby that I am. I realized that a lot of my anxiety probably stems from the fact that I white knuckle it when I have to have something done when I just need to admit I need a little “help” getting through the appointment. I told him that I needed a pediatric dentist for adults. You know how women will tell new moms-to-be “Don’t be a hero. You don’t get a trophy for a natural birth; get the epidural.”? Well, I decided to tell myself the same thing only, you know, in dental terms.

They were sooooo nice to me. They wanted to know if it was something in particular that bothered me and I told them it was everything. The sounds, smells, sensations, vibrations, tastes, gag reflex, cold water, everything. The hygienist was sweet and switched tools when she saw me tense up at one point. They all said how proud they were of me for getting in and I even got a card in the mail from the hygienist :) I would need a couple of appointments with my dentist and I had a root canal that looked concerning to the dentist, so he referred me to an endodontist to have it looked at. I also needed to get my wisdom teeth pulled in preparation for braces. My teeth are so crowded and worn down that the front bottom ones are starting to chip. I’ve had more than one dentist say that they are just going to continue deteriorating until I get them straightened. And unfortunately they’re too bad for Invisalign.

We scheduled me for my first appointment the week before Easter. I was having a partial crown removed and needed a full crown. When I got to the appointment, the receptionist told me that they were out of nitrous. It was supposed to be delivered an hour earlier but he still wasn’t there. I was holding in some fairly strong emotions as I told her I would be ok without it. When we got back to the room and the assistant started getting everything ready, my eyes started watering. Her back was to me and I was trying to hold it together, but the tears just kept coming and I had to grab a kleenex. She finally noticed me and asked what was wrong. I told her what they had said about being out of nitrous and apologized for being such a baby. I was so embarrassed. That’s the first time I’ve actually cried at the dentist.

When the dentist came in, he asked if I was ok. He didn’t even know they had run out. I told him I could do it without but he told me no. He wanted me to be comfortable and calm and we would wait. They tuned on the tv, turned off the light and gave me headphones and a blanket. Thankfully Mr. Nitrous Deliveryman got there about 15 minutes later. They hooked me up and a few seconds later I was giving the doc the thumbs up to do his thing. It took close to two hours and I even dozed off at one point.¬†It is so very nice to not care one bit what’s going on in my mouth.

That was a Monday. On Friday night of Easter weekend I started having horrible pain on the other side of my mouth. Up until then, I hadn’t had a bit of pain. I wrote all about that in my Easter post. I got in on Monday and the dentist said he thought that tooth might need a root canal :( So I got right into the endodontist the next day. By then, the pain had shifted to a bottom tooth on that same side. Lovely. He did hot/cold tests on several teeth, as well as hit them with a little tool to see how sensitive they were. Heaven help me, I just about fell out of my chair on a couple of my teeth. He said he was afraid I was going to slap him if he tested any more, so he stopped after the couple of teeth that were concerning. So yes, I needed a root canal on the top right, a root canal restoration on the bottom left which looked to be infected, and probably a root canal on the bottom right, but we could wait and keep an eye on that one. Sigh. The bottom right one was the one that just about killed me with the cold. The tooth ached for the rest of the day after that.

I told him to give me the nitrous. I wasn’t going to try and be a hero. No shame here. He wasn’t quite as generous with the gas as the dentist, so my second visit I told him to up it a bit; I cared a bit too much about what was happening that first time around. I had almost no pain from that root canal. It was awesome. I was going in to my appointments with very little anxiety, and I haven’t procrastinated on making appointments. I’ve felt like a rockstar these last couple of months :)

So since my root canal went so well, I scheduled my root canal restoration for the Monday that we were keeping Abby. Welllll, that one did knock me for a loop. Because of the infection, the endodontist said that it’s like stirring up a hornet’s nest. I was in quite a lot of pain and I was sooooo tired for a little over a week. I spent a lot of time on the couch that week while Abby was there. The restoration required two visits. The first one he drilled out the old stuff and stuffed it full of antibiotic and filled it in. This needed to sit and work for a few weeks and then I went back to have the antibiotic stuff pulled out and finish the restoration off. We kept my crown, but I’ll go back in 6 months to make sure the infection has stayed away. If it didn’t work, which I guess is common with restorations, I will have to have it pulled.

During this time I also went to the dentist to get two permanent crowns and another small hole filled, I had a consultation with the oral surgeon about my wisdom teeth extraction and also a consultation with the orthodontist. All told, I had about 12 dental visits of some sort in an 8 week period.

Last Thursday I had my wisdom teeth pulled. They were all fully emerged and they all had cavities and have for some time. This was the big one that I had been putting off and putting off. I could’ve waited to have them out (and probably should have since I hit my maximum dental benefits for the year after just one crown), but I was on a roll and just needed to keep going til I was all done.

When the day came to have them out, I was actually excited. I think having the nitrous for all of these appointments has made a world of difference for me. I was hardly nervous at all. And the surgeon was amazing. He was preparing me for a pretty difficult recovery due to my age, so I was ready for that and planning on taking it easy the whole next week in case I was in pain. Well, it went off without a hitch and I’ve had almost zero pain! I took about 4 half doses of the good stuff and I took the ibuprofen for the swelling for a couple of days, but I never had a lot of pain. I was groggy and out of it the first day, but I’ve been so pleased with how things have gone. I do still have a numb spot on one side of the roof of my mouth, but hopefully that will return to normal eventually. If it is permanent, at least it’s not too terrible. It’s really just annoying. It feels like when you burn the roof of your mouth with pizza.

And so I don’t forget, here are a couple of funnies with the nitrous. At one of the appointments, I kept hearing a Beatles song playing. I think it was “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. It was funny because I was aware enough that I was eventually really confused about where it was coming from. HGTV was playing in my headphones but the Beatles was loud and clear in my head. Chris and I had gone to see that Beatles cover band a week or so earlier. I thought it odd that it wasn’t one of their psychedelic songs playing like “I Am the Walrus.” That would have been more appropriate.

And then during one of my appointments at the dentist, I had the nitrous, but the work didn’t require too much numbing, just a little because I had had the root canal. After it was over, I was super hungry and could actually eat because my whole mouth wasn’t numb. Every other time I could only get a milkshake. I texted Chris afterwards and asked, “Does nitrous give you the munchies? Because I’m STARVING!” and then I headed to Arby’s because that sounded sooooo good. I was telling that story to the endodontist and his assistant after he had hooked up the nitrous and they were waiting for me to get numb. The assistant was like, “Where is there an Arby’s around here?” and mentioned she hadn’t had it in forever and there was something new that looked really good. Halfway through the procedure she says, “Man, I really want Arby’s now.” Ha!

I’m very glad to have all of that behind me and hope I can get to 2017 before needing any more work done.