Monday, July 30, 2007

Prelude to a Root Canal

Getting a root canal is right up there on the list of the things I hate most. But today was the day for my third, suggested by my wonderful dentist Larry Bowers as an effort to save a dying tooth.

My previous root canals were done by Dr. Zweibel, a little man with contacts that made his eyes an unreal shade of bright blue. I always thought he looked rather like an exotic bug. He was good at what he did, but every part about it was sheer torture from the painful shots of Novocain to the roto-rooting of my canals to the dead feeling in my mouth for at least 12 hours.

My morning had a rather odd stacking of appointments prior to the root canal. It started off with two half-hour silent sits with a walking meditation in between. I commented somewhat jokingly to Gordon on the way out that maybe my root canal would just seem like a third sit.

Then I had an appointment with my osteopath Dr. Craddock to address the problems I’ve been having for a while now with my neck and shoulders. His work always seems like some sort of magic to me as he slowly lets his fingers explore the troubled area, putting a little pressure here and there. His exam seemed somewhat meditative to me, especially as the constricted area started to release. He determined that my right ribs and my collarbone were the source of the problem. I sort of floated out of his office and headed downtown.

My tooth problem was caused by a fall I took in Norway 4 years ago. The Norwegian dentist I saw (exam + X-ray for the equivalent of $50) had pronounced the broken tooth no longer vee-tal (meaning alive). I came home, had gum surgery, had the tooth bonded, and waited for it to turn black.

It never really took on that dead look, but Dr. Bowers saw a change on my latest X-ray that would indicate that the tooth is being absorbed by my body. Not a good thing, because that means it will eventually just crack off completely. The solution? A root canal for $1225.

He recommended endodontist Kim Menhinick, a 30-something woman with a blond pony tail and very natural eyes. I liked her immediately. I especially liked the fact that I never felt the shots of Novocain at all. She said she had learned a trick from an oral surgeon about how to give them painlessly. Instead of gripping the chair with white knuckles and practically hyperventilating, I found myself quite calm today as I sat through part one of the root canal process.

Could it have been all those other morning activities that made this root canal bearable? I would still not opt for such a procedure if given a choice, but I do believe getting my body prepared for this assault made a difference.


Blogger Kristin said...

I've got to get a couple of broken teeth fixed. Painless shots would be so nice.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

While there are definitely better things than having a root canal (or any oral work), I can't ever recall any being a white knuckle experience. Mind you, having someone poking around in my mouth is not something I enjoy.

However, my root canal experience was perfectly fine. It was like getting a filling done - just lasted a lot longer. I don't recall any post operative pain. I was prepared to be in pain in the days following, but nada.

I suppose everyone's experience is different. My parents tell me how painless going to the dentist is now compared to when they were growing up.

Did they at least give you a block to place between your teeth to keep your mouth open. Much less tiring than trying to keep the mouth open on your own.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Painless shots makes getting dental work done much less ominous.

Richard -- No block between my teeth, but it took only about 30 minutes today. It really wasn't bad at all and I have NO PAIN afterwards. I can't complain about anything this time.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Beakerz said...

just makes me say.....OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!!

5:30 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I'm so glad it wasn't as bad as you feared it would be. What a relief.

And the good thing is, it's OVER. Yay!!

9:40 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Beakerz -- No OUCH really. I'm no martyr, but this really wasn't bad at all.

Reya -- Only part one is over, but I expect the rest to be as painfree. There is another trip to the endodontist and a visit to Larry Bowers and then it will be done.

10:22 AM  

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