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I’m Excited About My Root Canal

Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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Cleveland, OH (USA)
A new toothbrush from Santa

For most of my life I never brushed my teeth at all. Now I can't stop buying toothbrushes!

This Christmas I'm treating myself to the new Sonicare DiamondClean brush. I'm way more excited about it than I should be. When I started seeing my dentist 21 months ago, I invested in an Oral B 5000, and have been religiously using it twice a day, every day since. (Okay, I might have missed a Saturday morning or two :redface:). It's been a great brush, so there's absolutely no need for a new one. But I'm a gadget geek, and I figure there's worse things to be slightly obsessed about than taking care of my teeth, right?

In addition to building a habit of brushing, I also started flossing regularly for my new year's resolution last year. (Well, that and also I knew the hygienist would floss my teeth at my first cleaning, and I was kind of terrified of that. So I actually started to kind of desensitize myself for that experience.) That's also worked really well, and I now floss twice a day, just before brushing.

I'm generally pretty horrible at establishing new habits (or breaking old bad ones). But for some reason, thankfully, these have worked. I think the electric toothbrush helps, partly because the timer adds some discipline and makes me brush for a full two minutes.

I figure if I'd actually been buying toothbrushes for the past forty years at $3 a pop, I'd have spent more than I just dropped on a fancy new toothbrush. But really, if it makes me happy and helps me keep brushing, it's money well spent.

Plus, it's just such a beautiful toothbrush! Why shouldn't my vanity look as wonderful as my smile? :giggle:

Happy holidays to everyone, and I hope Santa brings you all that you desire, even if it's dorky and a little odd.
 
carole

carole

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Had a giggle at this Happy Holidays to you Steve :xmastree: and a happy New Year :butterfly:
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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Two Years On

It's been almost two years since March 20, 2012... the day I faced my deepest fear and forced myself into the dentist's office for the first time in decades. I'm still brushing, flossing, and scheduling regular six-month cleanings, and the dentist office no longer terrifies me. Also, having "normal" teeth is still fairly new for me, so I'm still thankful every day for simple things like being able to eat and smile.

Now, some good news/bad news.

The good news is, I had my regular six-month cleaning, and the hygienist couldn't say enough about how wonderful my teeth look. She kept saying, "This is awesome!" under her breath. I told her I floss twice a day now, religiously, and she said, "It shows! These teeth are in GREAT shape!" Yay, me!

The bad news is, I have two new dental problems that popped up just around the time of my cleaning.

Just before the cleaning, the crown on #31 started to break. My dentist removed it, and took an impression for a new one, this time made of zirconium (which I think is something like kryptonite :giggle:). That was the easy part. The hard part was, they kept seating the crown, and it would feel right, but then when I got home and tried to eat, there was always some part of the tooth hitting the wrong way. I seem to bite/chew differently when I'm in the chair vs. when I'm at home. So, twice the new crown fell off, and it took three visits and probably an hour and a half of adjustments until the crown "disappeared"-- meaning it now doesn't feel like some new foreign object, just just part of my normal teeth. None of this hurt, but it was a week or so of not being able to chew normally. Also a good reminder: if you have a new crown or filling that feels "big" or doesn't fit, go get it adjusted!

Another new experience happened right after my dental cleaning. My #3 tooth started to hurt, a LOT. I thought maybe this was because of the weird fit of the new crown down on #31, and also #3 has a root canal from long ago, so I took some advil and ignored it. The next day, the pain was excruciating, and it was obvious I had an abscess. I had a big ice pack on my face and planned to call the dentist on Monday (why do these things always happen on the weekend?). But when I woke up on Sunday morning, the tooth pain was completely gone-- but the whole side of my face was swollen up like a baseball.

Since the pain was gone, I thought this might actually be a good thing! I pictured lots of little antibodies being rushed to the scene of the crime by my immune system, killing the infection but swelling up the cheek around it. Go, body! This, it turns out, is completely NOT what is happening. If your face ever swells up from a toothache, call the dentist immediately, or go to the doctor. IMMEDIATELY! What this is is actually the infection spreading out into your body from the tooth. After departing the tooth, the next stop is your face, which is a lovely place to visit. And the next stop is... your brain! Things go downhill pretty rapidly from there. When you hear about people dying from an untreated tooth infection, this is how that happens. A good stiff round of antibiotics knocked it out almost completely in 24 hours.

Everything was still pretty raw and tender, so we waited a week to let the antibiotics do their thing. I got a re-root canal done last week, which was painless, but my dentist said that two of the roots were still obstructed, so she put some kind of softener in there and closed it up to get to work, and next week I go back for part two. Second root canals have a pretty low success rate, so I'm prepared for the worst (losing another tooth), but hoping for the best.

So, still going to the dentist way more often than I'd like-- they recognize my voice when I call! But at least it's not something I fear or dread. It's just kind of annoying. :grin:
 
P

patient

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The problem is , the OP spent a LOT of money fixing his teeth. What do you do if you do not have that sort of money? Here in England we have the NHS so the poor can afford dental treatment and if you are unemployed, you do not pay anything. What is the situation in Cleveland?

I am in full time employment and get private dental treatment. I can only afford that because I am on the denplan scheme where I pay a monthly fee. I had a crown which cost £200 via denplan and all I paid for was the lab fees. If I was not on denplan, that same crown would be £400 or more which I could never afford. So..... what do American dentists do for people who are either unemployed or on a low income?
 
H

holly_amanda

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Hi, Steve! I'm from Dayton! :) And MY AMAZZZZING dentist that I love is named Steve. :p

Let me tell you, I have just sat here and read your entire journal in about 30 minutes. While I didn't have as severe problems as you did, MANY of my fear issues were/are the same. I JUST plucked up the nerve to go to the dentist last month, after 11 years of avoidance. I was afraid of the pain, of the instruments, but I was MAINLY ashamed. Here I am, 31 years old, teeth that LOOK pretty from the outside, I've spent thousands on braces, and I'd let them go (they're still straight, thankfully). I brushed them daily, but without going to the dentist regularly, it just wasn't cutting it. I was scared that for being so young, the dentist would think I was some kind of deadbeat or loser for having "bad teeth". At my first appointment in February, I was in tears over the shame...and also the fear of meeting my new dentist. He was kind and compassionate, didn't lecture me one bit, put me 100% at ease, and it turned out all I needed were fillings. A LOT of them. Between February and last Thursday, I've had all 19 fillings done. I can't even begin to tell people what a relief it is to be done, but you guys here already know that!!

I HAD to read your journal, because my dentist DID tell me that some of my fillings I JUST had done were really deep, and there is a 50/50 chance they will be fixed by a filling, or they might need.......a root canal. dread. dread dread dread. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to know what the dentist is doing...I don't want to see them working, I don't want to hear anything...so I usually have my eyes closed and blare my mp3 player during dental work. BUT-as I've been going more, I've been hearing more terms, seeing more things that I am curious about, so I've done a lot of googling. anyway...my dentist told me that I would probably handle a RC better than a filling, because there is no drill (I HATE that damn thing), all hand tools. to ease some of this anxiety (about a procedure I might not even need) I looked up the tools. OH MY GOD. HORROR. I really wish I hadn't. I see NO WAY I could ever let ANYONE put those instruments in my mouth. is it REALLY as easy as you explain it?? it makes me sweaty just thinking about it. I have 100% trust in my dentist, and I demonstrated this to him Tuesday when I let him adjust my bite by polishing down 2 of my fillings, WITHOUT being highly sedated! I usually have to be doped up on halcion to have anything DONE in my mouth...and the most he had done UNmedicated before was look with a mirror. I was sure to point this out to him...and he complimented me on how much progress I had made in such a short time. but...even still...WITH my super compassionate, capable dentist..i don't know that I could go through with a root canal.
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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The problem is , the OP spent a LOT of money fixing his teeth. What do you do if you do not have that sort of money? Here in England we have the NHS so the poor can afford dental treatment and if you are unemployed, you do not pay anything. What is the situation in Cleveland?

I am in full time employment and get private dental treatment. I can only afford that because I am on the denplan scheme where I pay a monthly fee. I had a crown which cost £200 via denplan and all I paid for was the lab fees. If I was not on denplan, that same crown would be £400 or more which I could never afford. So..... what do American dentists do for people who are either unemployed or on a low income?
Yes, it has not been cheap. Dentistry in the US is still mostly a cash on the barrelhead affair. Dental insurance and discount plans can help a little, and most dentists are willing to work out some kind of payment plan. But the honest truth is, it can be expensive.

This site has a pretty comprehensive summary of dental costs and options in the US and UK, here:
http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/fears/cost-of-dental-treatment/

Sadly, dental phobics have enough to be worried about, without the fear of a big debt adding to the anxiety. But it's a reality for a lot of people. My advice, for anyone who's trying to work up the nerve to see the dentist, would be to put cost aside for now, and focus on finding a compassionate dentist and getting through the initial exam. I know that's easier said than done. But just like the fear of the dentist, the fear of the cost can run wild in your mind. With a treatment plan in hand, you'll at least have a realistic starting point. Then you can look into insurance, borrowing money, saving money, asking around about payment options, etc. You don't have to fix everything at once, and just getting started and out of pain will put you on a healthier path.

I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have been employed and able to save up a decent amount of money during the many years I was avoiding the dentist. But during my first round of treatment in my early 20's, I had basically no money. I paid for my work through a combination of signing up for, and maxing out, a bunch of credit cards, and taking out a short-term loan through an arrangement my dentist had with a lender. It took years to pay all of that off. But it made such a huge difference to the quality of my life, it was worth it.
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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Hi, Steve! I'm from Dayton! :) And MY AMAZZZZING dentist that I love is named Steve. :p

Let me tell you, I have just sat here and read your entire journal in about 30 minutes. While I didn't have as severe problems as you did, MANY of my fear issues were/are the same. I JUST plucked up the nerve to go to the dentist last month, after 11 years of avoidance. I was afraid of the pain, of the instruments, but I was MAINLY ashamed. Here I am, 31 years old, teeth that LOOK pretty from the outside, I've spent thousands on braces, and I'd let them go (they're still straight, thankfully). I brushed them daily, but without going to the dentist regularly, it just wasn't cutting it. I was scared that for being so young, the dentist would think I was some kind of deadbeat or loser for having "bad teeth". At my first appointment in February, I was in tears over the shame...and also the fear of meeting my new dentist. He was kind and compassionate, didn't lecture me one bit, put me 100% at ease, and it turned out all I needed were fillings. A LOT of them. Between February and last Thursday, I've had all 19 fillings done. I can't even begin to tell people what a relief it is to be done, but you guys here already know that!!

I HAD to read your journal, because my dentist DID tell me that some of my fillings I JUST had done were really deep, and there is a 50/50 chance they will be fixed by a filling, or they might need.......a root canal. dread. dread dread dread. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to know what the dentist is doing...I don't want to see them working, I don't want to hear anything...so I usually have my eyes closed and blare my mp3 player during dental work. BUT-as I've been going more, I've been hearing more terms, seeing more things that I am curious about, so I've done a lot of googling. anyway...my dentist told me that I would probably handle a RC better than a filling, because there is no drill (I HATE that damn thing), all hand tools. to ease some of this anxiety (about a procedure I might not even need) I looked up the tools. OH MY GOD. HORROR. I really wish I hadn't. I see NO WAY I could ever let ANYONE put those instruments in my mouth. is it REALLY as easy as you explain it?? it makes me sweaty just thinking about it. I have 100% trust in my dentist, and I demonstrated this to him Tuesday when I let him adjust my bite by polishing down 2 of my fillings, WITHOUT being highly sedated! I usually have to be doped up on halcion to have anything DONE in my mouth...and the most he had done UNmedicated before was look with a mirror. I was sure to point this out to him...and he complimented me on how much progress I had made in such a short time. but...even still...WITH my super compassionate, capable dentist..i don't know that I could go through with a root canal.
Greetings, fellow Ohioan! O-H! I-O! to you. :cheer2: Great job getting yourself back to the dentist and getting your teeth taken care of... before you let them get as bad as mine.

Unless I'm misunderstanding, you don't need a root canal at all? What typically happens with deep decay is, the dentist can't be 100% sure from the x-ray if the decay can be removed and restored with a simple filling, or if it's penetrated the root chamber and therefor needs a root canal. Once he's in there fixing the tooth, he'll either discover the former and finish with a filling, or the latter and recommend a root canal. If you've gotten all your fillings, it sounds like he didn't find any need for a root canal. So I *think* you're out of the woods.

I promise I'm not sugar-coating the root canal experience. It's very calm and gentle, and should be completely painless. I wish I could go back in time and make you not look at the tools. For all the work I've been through, I still don't know what most of the tools really look like! Once you get in the chair and have your headphones on, just look up at the ceiling and trust Steve. There's no pain and you'll be completely numb, so you won't need to know anything about the tools. For me, I can tell that the dentist is doing something in the general area of the tooth, but unless I'm paying attention I don't really know what. It's all these little hand tools and they don't feel like anything.

Let's hope you don't need a root canal any time soon or ever! But if you do, it's really NOTHING like its horrible reputation. I've had root canals on my lunch break and been back to work right after, and eaten normally at dinner that night. Nothing more than a couple of Advil for the headache caused by all the worrying. So, if the day ever comes, just trust this Steve and your Steve, it's completely easy and painless.

Take care!
 
H

holly_amanda

Junior member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
11
Yeah, he went ahead and filled everything, so we are pretty confident that no RC's are needed...but he said its never 100% possible to be sure until after he's done it. If I have a lot of pain, then that'll be the clue. Except for a few days following my last fillings, I have had no pain at all. I've just freaked myself out so much at the POSSIBILITY of needing one! :redface:

Thanks so much for your awesome advice, I have a feeling I may be coming back to your journal a lot to re-read some of your thoughts! O-H! :jump:
 
R

ReginaPhalange

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Dec 11, 2018
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178
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(or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Dentist)

No one sets out to have nasty teeth. You don’t stand facing the mirror twice a day, thinking, “I could brush my teeth now, but I choose not to.” There’s no motivational poster that says, “Today is the first day of what will turn out to be twenty years of dental neglect.” It doesn’t work that way.

It’s more like overdue library books. You start out with good intentions: posting the due date receipt on your refrigerator, setting the books on the table by the front door. After a while, they go forgotten, perhaps covered up by a Chinese take-out menu or a spring jacket. From time to time, they come to mind. “I need to take care of those,” you think to yourself. You start avoiding the library, knowing that your tardy books prevent you from borrowing anyway. Months go by, years. By now, your picture must be posted up on the wall at the library. The fines are probably in the hundreds of dollars. Maybe thousands. At dinner parties, you dread conversations that mention the library. When cornered, you quickly change the subject, or maybe casually throw out a library story of your own: “I tell you what, those card catalog drawers are heavywhen you pull them all the way out!” Meanwhile, the fines keep accumulating, and the books buried underneath your bed are thumping like the Telltale Heart. You’d love to be a normal library patron again, but the problem’s gotten so big...

My name is Steve, and I’m a dentophobic. I’ve lived most of my adult life terrified of one specific moment: the moment I would finally be forced to open my mouth to a dentist. (There was no possibility of my ever going softly into that good dental chair.) I’ve sat quietly at meals where entire chunks of tooth and giant metal fillings have broken free during chewing, casually tucking the hard material in a napkin, wondering if this was the damage that would finally require immediate treatment. I’ve endured sharp, shooting nerve pain and dull throbbing bone pain that lasted days before mercifully subsiding. I’ve chewed food on one side only, then the other, then a specific quarter or eighth of my mouth, to avoid whichever teeth were hurting that day. I’ve switched to softer foods, and then I’ve broken teeth on scrambled eggs and pasta. I remember every meal, every bite, that resulted in a lost piece of me. I’ve mourned each small bit of bone as it fell out.

You might get the impression that I’ve neglected my teeth, but you’d be wrong. I’ve paid such exquisite attention to every single one of them, as they’ve slowly crumbled away... and I’ve done it twice.

[part 1 of a continuing story]

This was so well written, I wish I'd read it years ago, I'm sure it would have given me a push. Even the car crash thoughts had entered my head (not in a wishful way, more like the idea of something big forcing it to all get fixed without me actually taking action)!
 
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