Me: “What kind of 25-year-old needs a root canal?!”
Mom: “Well, in my day, they would have just pulled the tooth out and left you with a hole in your mouth.”
Good point, Mary. Good point.
First, some history. I’ve had problems with my teeth since I can remember. Yes, I brush twice a day. Yes, I floss. But from weak baby teeth to oddly formed adult teeth that caused a propensity for cavities, then anxiety that makes me gnash my teeth together while sleeping, my trips to the dentist are rarely ever smooth experiences (funny that I’ve never needed braces). Despite these issues, though, I’ve surprisingly never developed a fear of the dentist, as many have. I’ve always been pretty good at sticking to a twice a year visit regimen.
The latest saga, or so-called Dental Nightmare, began last weekend. During times of stress, I sleep with a mouth guard to prevent damage that can occur from grinding my teeth. When I’m not stressed, I keep it out—that way I can talk and hum in my sleep freely (according to Jake, I do an excellent hummed version of Deck the Halls). My anxiety levels have been low lately, so I’ve been doing more sleep-humming than grinding these days. So when I woke up after a nightmare with jaw soreness on Friday morning, I knew something was up .
Over the weekend, the soreness moved to shooting pain. By Sunday, I was miserable. Luckily, after some frantic calls to my dentist, I was able to get in for an appointment Monday morning. I was there for about 15 minutes before being told that I probably needed a root canal and needed to see a specialist.
A root canal? Really? I thought only 40-year-olds get those.
I was able to get in to see the specialist that afternoon. I arrived, met the chipper receptionist, filled out necessary paperwork and was taken back to meet the root
canal extraordinaire. He introduced himself with a smile and a handshake, and ten minutes later, that same hand was drilling into my mouth and replacing my nerves with little falsies.
The pain was moderate, irritation level was severe and facial numbness was extensive. Before the procedure, a latex contraption was put over my mouth to hold my jaw open, and I was given sunglasses to ease the brightness of the lamp.
Here comes the most disgusting part of the whole ordeal so if you’re queasy, please stop reading now. I’m tilted back in the chair and am desperately trying to picture myself drinking a margarita on beach somewhere (I’m pretty sure the mantra “live in the present” doesn’t apply to root canal procedures). I’m listening to the drill, smelling the latex from the strange contraption and suddenly, another smell takes over—something rancid and terrible. What on earth? Oh…that’s the smell of the infection that was growing inside my mouth.
Ahhhh! So gross. So unbelievably gross.
Regardless of what may or may not have been growing in there, they were able to clean it out and send me on my way after about 45 minutes of work.
After this, I went to pay my bill. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty. I’ve been paying out-of-pocket for dental care for the past year after a job change and a conversation with a receptionist at my dentist’s office. “You’re all caught up on your x-rays, so you’ll probably be fine to pay out-of-pocket for a while. You don’t want to deal with a deductible, anyway,” she advised.
Now, if I have one takeaway from this experience, it’s this: Get dental insurance. Do it now. At least, if you have a load of issues like me, which rang from sensitivity to grinding, you should be covered. Now, I’m not trying to blame said receptionist for why I wasn’t covered for this procedure. My gut told me to get covered, and I didn’t listen. My advice to you, is look at dental insurance options if you tend to have wacky teeth issues like I do—even if you’re all caught up on your x-rays.
So, all in all, while the experience sucked terribly, at least I had an excuse to eat nothing but Snack Packs for a few days. I do really love Snack Packs.