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I’m Excited About My Root Canal

Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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The last root canal is finished!

A small victory for me, the last of my root canals is finished! It was to #19, which had a big old amalgam filling in it from childhood, and had recently started breaking away.

By now I'm kind of a pro at root canals, but I still don't look forward to them. This went off without a hitch, and no pain at all. Also while she had the quadrant numb, my dentist did a filling on #22. I remember being terrified of fillings as a kid, but after so many other procedures this year, the filling was a snap! It took all of about five minutes.

After a long absence, my treatment plan last year called for six root canals, seven crowns, two extractions, and a filling. All that remains now is four crowns and one extraction. I'm planning on having it all done by March 20th, my one year anniversary.

------------------------------

My other big achievement is, I'm flossing regularly. :D It was my New Year's resolution, and actually was a big reason for putting off my upcoming cleaning.

For me, cleanings are scarier than other procedures because a) I won't be numb (although you can ask to be), b) I'm seeing the hygienist instead of my trusted dentist, and c) a cleaning involves touching all of my teeth, not just one. I know that the hygienist usually does a floss as part of a routine cleaning, and because it's been so long since I've flossed, I expected it to be bloody and painful.

Anyway, I've been brushing regularly with my "floss-action" electric toothbrush for a year now, and my dentist said my gums are looking great, so on January 1 I gave it a try. Other than being awkward, I was able to floss all my teeth, and only a couple of them bled a little. After two weeks the bleeding has stopped, and hopefully that means my gums are healthier still.

My first cleaning in 18+ years is in two weeks, and I'm hoping that between all the rebuilding my dentist has done, and the regular brushing and flossing, that it will be quick and painless, and that I'll get a good "report card"!
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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Re: The last root canal is finished!

A small victory for me, the last of my root canals is finished! It was to #19, which had a big old amalgam filling in it from childhood, and had recently started breaking away.

By now I'm kind of a pro at root canals, but I still don't look forward to them. This went off without a hitch, and no pain at all. Also while she had the quadrant numb, my dentist did a filling on #22. I remember being terrified of fillings as a kid, but after so many other procedures this year, the filling was a snap! It took all of about five minutes.

After a long absence, my treatment plan last year called for six root canals, seven crowns, two extractions, and a filling. All that remains now is four crowns and one extraction. I'm planning on having it all done by March 20th, my one year anniversary.

------------------------------

My other big achievement is, I'm flossing regularly. :D It was my New Year's resolution, and actually was a big reason for putting off my upcoming cleaning.

For me, cleanings are scarier than other procedures because a) I won't be numb (although you can ask to be), b) I'm seeing the hygienist instead of my trusted dentist, and c) a cleaning involves touching all of my teeth, not just one. I know that the hygienist usually does a floss as part of a routine cleaning, and because it's been so long since I've flossed, I expected it to be bloody and painful.

Anyway, I've been brushing regularly with my "floss-action" electric toothbrush for a year now, and my dentist said my gums are looking great, so on January 1 I gave it a try. Other than being awkward, I was able to floss all my teeth, and only a couple of them bled a little. After two weeks the bleeding has stopped, and hopefully that means my gums are healthier still.

My first cleaning in 18+ years is in two weeks, and I'm hoping that between all the rebuilding my dentist has done, and the regular brushing and flossing, that it will be quick and painless, and that I'll get a good "report card"!
For the life of me, I have no idea how you got through so many root canals. Just the possibility of one had my climbing the walls in panic! But I am glad for you that they're all done now. I hope that your cleaning goes as well as this last appointment did.:)
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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Routine Cleaning

As I approach the end of a year-long treatment plan (six root canals, seven crowns, two extractions, and a filling), I got a call from my dental office, "You're due for your routine cleaning and exam-- please call to schedule an appointment." The voice was friendly and routine, but it gave me a start. For all the work I've had, it's been fifteen years at least since I've had all my teeth cleaned at the same time.

I've probably spent thirty or forty hours this year in the chair with my dentist and dental assistant, both of whom earned my trust quickly by being so compassionate and gentle on my first visit. As we've worked through the plan, they've learned that I don't like the chair tipped all the way back, and we've agreed on a position a couple of inches elevated-- enough to let her work comfortably, but still keep the blood from rushing to my head. We've learned that I do better when we let the anesthetic "bake in" for five minutes before starting. We've learned the timing and techniques I need to not gag so bad when taking x-rays-- the assistant yelling "Clear!" like a heart surgeon when she has the shot and I can yank the big choking hunk of plastic out of my mouth, and then we laugh like teenagers at the silliness of this routine. I've learned to mimic the three-tone chirp of the apex locator that signals that the root canal is almost over, and my dentist has learned to distinguish this little mumbled joke noise from the one I make when anything hurts even a tiny bit. But she still stops immediately, just in case.

It's a very intimate relationship, but it's not really "normal". What's normal is to feel a little or a lot afraid when you learn you need a root canal. I'm happy to have a comfortable root canal routine, but that's not a routine you're supposed to develop, really.

A number of years ago, when my job required me to be a frequent flier, Northwest misplaced my bag so frequently that I started memorizing the bag locator codes. When you lose your luggage, the airline agent hands you a laminated card with pictures of all kinds of bag colors and shapes. Usually when a bag goes missing, it's because the tag fell off or was ripped off. So they have codes to try to find your bag by its size/color code. My bags were 32G and 37F. So one morning, I arrived without my bags AGAIN, and went to the Northwest lost luggage counter. The agent started to hand me the laminated card, and I waved her off: "One's 32G, and the other is 37F." "Oh, you're GOOD!" the agent said, smiling. "No," I said, "you just lose my bags too often."

And so it is with my teeth. It seems normal to me that I know each tooth by number and name. It seems normal that I know about apex locators and paper points and file sizes. But it's not, really.

What's normal is to schedule regular cleaning appointments, to see your dentist twice a year for a few minutes, to sit through a routine cleaning like it's, well, routine, and maybe to get lectured about not flossing enough.

So when the call came that I was due for my routine cleaning, I decided to treat it like the most routine thing in the world. I was nervous about having every single tooth touched and scraped, instead of just one tooth at a time like we did for root canals and crowns. I was nervous about all of it happening without any anesthetic at all. I was nervous about working with a hygienist who didn't know my routine, nor I hers. I was nervous about not knowing every tool and procedure by heart, about having no idea which step we were on or how many steps there were.

I knew that I could ask my dentist to do the cleaning. I knew that I could ask to be numbed up if I wanted to. But I didn't want that. I wanted to be normal.

So, I did it. I'd started flossing daily as soon as I got the call, so after four weeks of that, my gums no longer bled. I'd read about the new techniques in dental cleanings, about the ultrasonic tool that eliminated most of the scraping and poking, but kind of sprayed water everywhere. I was ready.

When the time came, I went to a new room at the dental office, not to my dentist's chair. I met someone brand new and let her look all around my mouth, and at the xrays that glow bright white from all the restorations. And I lay there calmly while she cleaned my teeth. I told her I was overdue for a cleaning, and when she started to look back through my records, I told her the last cleaning was in 1996. "Last century." I didn't mention that for fifteen of those sixteen years, I never brushed them, either. She told me my teeth looked fantastic for having been away so long.

And then I was going home, with my little plastic bag in hand. Toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini floss. Coupon for mouthwash, of dubious medical benefit. ("The ADA recommends brushing and flossing daily" the flyer said. "Also, the ADA recognizes the potential benefit of using a mouthwash product.") And a smiling tooth on the outside. Some things never change.

I'm inordinately proud of my little plastic bag. It's the very normal-ness of it that makes me feel a thousand feet tall. It's not "what to expect at your upcoming surgery" or "important care for your tooth extraction". It's just the same little goody bag that the hygienist gives to everyone, of every age, twice a year. And now, I've got one!
 
carole

carole

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I am glad your cleaning went well for you, I would give you a hundred dancing banannnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssss but if I do a few I am sure they will do and I like to mix it up a little.

Well done you :dance2::dance2::dance2::dance2::dance2::dance2::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::cheer::cheer::cheer::cheer::cheer::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::dance::dance::dance::dance::dance::yayy::yayy::yayy::yayy::yayy::yayy::yayy::yayy::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::perfect::perfect::perfect:
 
A

Annabell0614

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Thanks!

I just read this whole thread. I am heading to the chair tomorrow for the first time in a very, very long time. I am stressed beyond belief, but know I have to go. I have a tooth that broke and basically does not want to be in my mouth. It's been breaking and cracking for a while. Due to my insane fear of the dentist, I just dealt with it since I had no pain. Well, last night I had a nice piece break off and now I am in a bit of discomfort. My friends and family are trying to pep me up and tell me I will be fine tomorrow, but in my head I am thinking "what if I pass out?" or what if I am told "you have the worst teeth I have ever seen". It's been so long that I really don't know what to expect. All I know is that I am tired of the unknown and just want it over with. From my diagnosis, I believe what is left of the tooth will need to be removed.

I am so thankful for finding this forum because I realize I am truly not alone. Thanks for posting your story/journey. I will update after my appointment. :cry:
 
carole

carole

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:welcome: to the forum.


Hi you may not lose the tooth it is surprising what they can do these days. It will be a look around and maybe an x ray that the dentist will do. Dentists these days try their best to make us feel comfortable and they are very aware that we do get nervous.

Your family and friends are right and you will be fine at your appointment. Let us know how you get on.

Good luck :clover::clover::clover:
 
A

Annabell0614

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Thank you, Carole!
 
T

Thunderbird

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Thank you Steve for sharing as much as you have with us here in this dental phobia group. And thank you for not skimping on the details so I can learn what to expect, though I honour your bravery in being able to speak about it.

I was hoping I could ask a question about breathing? I tend to hold my breath when I'm stressed out, how did you or you and your dentist pace your breathing?
 
carole

carole

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I can help here, my dentist used to tell me to breath in through my mouth and out of my nose and he used to start to count 1 breath in aanndd 2 breath out. Nice and steady does it.

I either don't breath or breath like a maniac either way I don't realise until they comment on it. I do try and concentrate on the breathing and making sure I do, but it isn't always easy.

The best of luck to you :clover::clover::clover::clover::clover:
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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New behavior

Yesterday morning, while munching on (of all things) a Fritos corn chip, I felt a sharp gum-like pain near one of my lower molars. I assumed that I'd just got gotten some food lodged in there, and it was irritating the gums. I went and brushed and flossed the area, and though a tiny bit of food came out, the tooth still hurt. I tried chewing with it again, and the pain was pretty bad. I took some ibuprofin and hoped for the best.

The reason I'm sharing this story is that in my former, phobic life, I would have avoided chewing with that part of my mouth, taken lots of Advil, and just waited for it to go away. And it probably would have, after the chunk of tooth that had broken and was now poking at my gums eventually fell off. I probably would have spent the next day or two worrying about the tooth and being a little more irritable in general because of the fear that this might be The Thing That Made Me Go To The Dentist.

Instead, after the pain kept getting worse through the day, I called my dentist and asked if they could fit me in. After lunch, I calmly drove to the dentist's office, and let her have a look. This was a tooth that had previously had a root canal and had a temporary crown on it. I was worried because RCT teeth aren't supposed to cause any pain, since they have no nerves. So I though I must have cracked it or the RCT had failed, and the tooth would be lost.

So, I was nervous about the outcome-- but I wasn't nervous about the dentist. I trusted her to have a look at the tooth and even poke around with an explorer, even though the tooth was very sensitive. I know that she won't touch anything that would cause any pain, because she's very careful. And, after she discovered that a chuck of tooth had in fact broken, I trusted her to numb me up and pry the broken bit off with a pair of forceps. It sounded horrible, but I knew she'd be gentle and accurate.

Fortunately, we were already planning on crowning this tooth soon, and the break wasn't bad enough to affect her ability to crown it. We decided to just go ahead and prep the tooth for a crown. She mentioned that she might have to do a "small gingivectomy" to expose the tooth for the machine that makes the crown. This means cutting the gum. I wasn't too happy with that, but I trusted her to do it painlessly and minimally, if she had to. (It turned out she didn't have to.)

An hour later, I was on my way back to work, pain free and with a brand new beautiful crown. Today the tooth feels fine and I know that it's healthy and restored and shouldn't give me any more troubles. My dentist and her assistant both gave me a little teasing over the fact that I was eating Fritos for breakfast, but just because they know me and we laugh a lot together.

I can't tell you how great it feels to be "normal" and to be able to call the dentist and fix a problem when it happens, instead of living with the pain and hoping the problem goes away. It's not only a much healthier way to live, it also just feels great not to have to carry around another worry, and not to have one more pain to adjust to.

I hope everyone out there who's struggling with dental phobia can someday find a dentist that you really learn to trust, because it makes such a huge difference. Most problems can be fixed fairly quickly, and without pain, if you deal with them right away. It's really nice to be able to get someone to fix you up right away, and put it behind you. If you're not in that place yet, I want you to know that it is possible to get to this point.
 
carole

carole

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Well look at you now :respect::respect::respect:

Well done you, I am glad you got this fixed and so quick too. :jump::jump::jump::yayy::claps::claps::claps::wow::perfect:
 
shamrockerin

shamrockerin

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That's really great. You must feel so relieved, being able to just go to the office "like a normal person";).
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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By the way, here's my little tooth getting created while I wait! The machine is a CEREC-3, it's about the size of a desktop printer, and it makes crowns (and inlays/infills, etc) right in the dentist's office, in about 15 minutes. You can see some of the "blanks" sitting on top of it, these are solid blocks of porcelain, selected by size and shade so they can match your tooth color.

The way CEREC works, the dentist preps the tooth just as she would for a normal crown. But then instead of taking an impression and sending that to a lab, the dental assistant (at least in my office, it's the assistant who's trained for CEREC) gets the tooth nice and dry, "paints" it with some kind of chemical, and then takes pictures of it with a wand that's about the size of a toothbrush. The pictures are fed into a computer and modified on-screen by the assistant to identify the margins, etc. And then they hit "print", and it goes off to this machine for milling.

What you see below is the "window" on the front of the CEREC machine. My new crown is about in the center between the horizontal grey stripe of the "CEREC" logo. There's a little router bit and a platform that moves in three dimensions, and there's water spraying everywhere inside the chamber which is mostly what you see. When it's finished, they sand and polish it, and into your mouth it goes!

CEREC claims their materials are just as strong as porcelain-over-composite, and should last decades. From my perspective they look and feel identical to the lab-made ones.

As a geek, I really liked seeing the machine making my crown, though to be honest I got bored after a few minutes and left the CEREC to its work.

cerec.jpg
 
B

blackhound

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Congrats on your new tooth, Steve, and how great is it that you can be 'normal'. Wow. CEREC is great. I love my CEREC crowns. My teeth never looked so good!

BH:XXLhug:
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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A quick note about crown fittings

When you're having restorative work done, whether it's a new crown, infill, or filling, the dentist will usually finish by having you bite down on a piece of blueish paper to check your bite. "Tap tap, and grind..."

The purpose is to check that your teeth are hitting evenly and that the new restoration isn't "high" or "premature", meaning that your bite is resting on that one tooth, or sometimes on a high point of that tooth.

The problem is, it's sometimes hard to remember where your natural bite is, especially if you're numbed up. You need to know two things: 1) It's not critical to get the bite right on the first try. If you get home and your bite doesn't feel right, your dentist can easily make adjustments until the tooth "disappears" back into your normal chewing. 2) You shouldn't suffer or tolerate a bad bite from recent dental work. Sometimes it takes a couple of days to get used to having tooth matter where none was before, but if you still find yourself shifting around to make your new restoration feel right, or if the new tooth "stands out" and seems to not fit right, speak up and get it adjusted!

I recently had a crown on 19 (a lower left molar) and then simultaneously on 2 and 31 (right upper and lower molars, these oppose each other). It took a couple of visits back to the dentist just to have her polish down a couple of high spots that were making one side of my mouth or the other stick up. I'd tap the paper between my teeth while in the chair, and it would *seem* right, but then when I got home and tried to eat, it still felt like the new crowns were grinding. After a couple of adjustments, I quickly found myself eating and not paying any attention to the new teeth, which is a pretty good sign that your bite is back to normal.

Tolerating a bad bite and lead you to shift the way your jaw sits while chewing and at rest, and often a bad bite is a matter of a millimeter or less, an amount that is easy to correct but sometimes hard to detect without living with it for a few days.

Don't feel ashamed of yourself for not getting the bite right while in the chair, and don't fee it's a complaint against the dentist. It's not, and no dentist will take offense if you go back and tell him you new crown or filling feels a little off.
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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The Doctor Will See You Now...

I think it's pretty clear by now that I don't like going to the doctor. The effect has been pretty obvious on the dental side of things, but I've avoided going to the "regular" doctor for a long time, too. The feeling isn't really the same: nothing in the doctor's office is anywhere near as scary as the drill and the pick. But a lot of the underlying emotions are the same. I'm afraid of being lectured or told that I need to lose weight, eat less fatty foods, eat more vegetables, exercise more, etc. I know these things, and I work on them to various degrees at various times. But the fear of being told that by an authority figure in a white coat...

I've also stayed away for another reason that kept me away from the dentist: the fear of learning that I have some disease/condition that I didn't know. Somehow, keeping my head in the sand will keep the actual disease at bay.

Working with my dentist (and a good therapist) has changed my attitude about health quite a bit. I won't say I'm completely "cured" of my hiding ways, but I have a much different approach to doctors now. Rather than viewing the doctor as some kind of authority figure, and my medical condition as some kind of shameful sin, I look at it more like getting a professional to help me fix/maintain my body, at my direction. As I advise a lot of people on the forum here, I look at it just as I would taking my car in to the mechanic. I'll decide what gets fixed and to what degree, based on his expert opinion... and I won't be ashamed of whatever I did or didn't do to contribute to the car's condition. I haven't changed the oil in way too long? Nice to know, now please change it for me.

So recently, I found myself at a restaurant with my wife, and got a piece of meat stuck in my esophagus. One lingering effect of the current dental work and prior dental neglect: I tend not to chew my food as thoroughly as I should. My brain still associates chewing with pain, so I often bite gingerly and swallow early, to avoid that one bite that will shatter another tooth. There's no reason to do this anymore, but if I'm not paying attention, I still do. Anyway, I couldn't get the meat dislodged, and I couldn't swallow anything-- even my own saliva. I could still breathe, so I wasn't turning blue, but it was really painful, and scary for my wife. My inclination was to wait, and maybe keep trying to retch, but I allowed my wife to take me to the emergency room. If you can't swallow anything, it's kind of an emergency. :hmm:

The doctors did an emergency EGD (it's a scope that goes down your throat), but while I was under general anesthesia, I stopped breathing and turned blue, and had to be somewhat violently resuscitated. (Fortunately I was completely unconscious through all this.) And, while I was lying there recovering, the nurses heard my monstrous snoring and told my wife, "That sounds like apnea... your husband should get that checked out."

Despite my fears of the doctor, I decided to take my new attitude about dental work into the medical realm. I went to a family doctor recommended by a friend, and asked for general physical and sleep study.

To my surprise, it went much like my first dental visit. The doctor was extremely friendly and positive, and praised me for taking an interest in my health. My weight is high (just on the wrong side of obese), and my blood pressure was pretty high, but he didn't freak out or scold me. He got me a prescription to lower the blood pressure, and recommended I try to lose some weight, and referred me to the sleep clinic. "If you can't lose weight right now, we've got some other things we can try, ok?" He made it clear that it was preferable not to have to resort to medication, but at the same time he didn't make me feel bad about my weight or diet.

The past few months it feels like I've been to the doctor almost as much as I've been to the dentist. There's nothing dramatically wrong with me, I'm just following up on a couple of minor conditions that I've avoided getting care for, and I've had a sinus infection that refuses to go away (ugh!). It's a little frustrating to find myself at the doctor's so much, but at the same time I know it's just a temporary thing, and also it feels really good to have a professional I can go to when I need to fix something.

I look at this as part three in my health trilogy. The first part was seeing a therapist to work through some lingering childhood issues, and indirectly, my shame and fear about the dentist. The second part was getting all my teeth fixed up and getting back into a good space with my dental phobia. And now, the third part is balancing my body and tuning up some things that need a little work.

Through it all, the overwhelming theme is: it's not wrong or bad or shameful to have parts of me that are broken. It's just part of being human. Some of these are the result of "bad" choices I've made, in lifestyle or avoiding care. Some of them are just the results of chance and environment. Regardless, here I am, "warts and all", and it feels so much better to know that doctors and dentists are there to serve my needs and help me, instead of being authorities who are there to scold and shame me.

Up next: adventures in sleep apnea...
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

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OMG Steve :o - you really have been through the mill!!! I'm so glad that things turned out ok and that you're here to tell the tale *breathes huge sigh of relief* :hug5:

Now here's a tip: go for the Resmed S9 Autoset (with humidifier). Your wife will be eternally grateful :grin:! Good luck with the sleep study :clover:
 
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