Uneasy Lies the Tooth
I just knew it. I was driving to Colorado when I noticed an odd sensation in my mouth. It was barely noticeable, but noticeable just the same. It wasn’t a painful sensation, just a little sensitive to pressure. Root canal? I’d always associated it with intense pain, the likes of which this wasn’t. I monitored the sensation all through my weeklong stay in Durango, but it never got bad. The following Monday I was home.
There was no disruption of my routine. I played guitar and sang. If some mistook my singing as screams of pain, they really weren’t. I golfed, my scores ranging from the low 90’s to horrible, three-digit monstrosities, but not one of the cries of anguish had anything to do with my tooth. I even ate. Apples? No problem! Sweets? Still wonderful! The tooth seemed fully functional. Only if I “tweaked” the tooth by pressing my tongue against it would I get any special sensation at all.
I wondered what the cause might be. Maybe the crown sitting on the tooth in question was a bit loose, proving Shakespeare’s axiom, “uneasy lies the tooth that wears the crown.” Or perhaps it was a temporary infection in my gum that would go away with no treatment and I’d live happily ever after. It didn’t. I called my dentist, Dr. Mendoza, and was in his office the next day. He tapped. He took x-rays. He applied cold. After several minutes of poking and prodding, I got the verdict.
Bad news tends to be wrapped in far more verbiage than necessary. Mendoza said “John, it appears (hem-haw) infected nerve (more hem haw) what we refer to (yada yada) root canal.” Bingo! Translation: “You need a root canal.” I wasn’t shocked, but my heart sank. He told me that root canals are no longer the big deal they used to be. He said they were often done in about an hour in a specialist’s office and then there’d be a follow-up visit. Still, root canals always sounded horrible. “Yeah, that sounds like about as much fun as a root canal” one might say sarcastically. I’d no longer need to imagine the dreaded procedure, I’d be joining the club of those who had gone through it and somehow lived to tell the tale.
My first inclination was to have the procedure after a golf
tournament I was to play in the following weekend at Lake Tahoe,
but while not yet really painful, the tooth was getting more sensitive by the day. What if it flared up while I was away from home? I called the specialists’ office that very afternoon.
Seeking support, I posted my condition on Facebook. Several friends responded. One expressed surprise that at age 60 it was just my first, and not to worry. Another told me that she’d had ten and it was no big deal. Though I didn’t quite believe them, these were the stories I wanted to hear. Mostly, it was surprising how many had gone through this alleged Hell on Earth.
People often talk of living in another time and place, the days of King Arthur, the American Revolution, or the Wild West. Not for me. I want to live in the here and now for one simple reason: modern dentistry. Perhaps drinking mass quantities of alcohol as preparation for having a tooth pulled sounds great, but I WANT NOVOCANE!
My specialist obliged. He told me that for this procedure he typically gives a triple dose and assured me I’d feel nothing beyond the vibrations and a bit of pressure. In went the Novocain. As it was taking effect, he described the procedure, complete with a drawing. Too much information, let’s get on with it!
The procedure went off without a hitch. As advertised, root canals are easy. As advertised, there was no pain. As advertised, I was on my way home in about an hour. I was given some pills to keep swelling down. They also gave me a prescription for pain “just in case”, but there was no pain even after the Novocain wore off. Surprisingly, it turned out to be easier than getting a crown, of which I have several.
So I guess this makes me a member of the “Yeah, I Had a Root Canal Club”. I didn’t get a membership card like I did with AARP or the Safeway grocery store and there aren’t any discounts when I go shopping. I haven’t been told of any club meetings. But when a party conversation turns to the subject of dental work, I now speak with authority!