The Fate of Number 18

Monday morning will determine the fate of number 18.

No, I’m not talking about the actual number. While it would be cool to have some say in whether eighteen is meritorious enough to remain in our numeric system (it is a significant age in the US, but what did it ever do for me?), I, unfortunately, don’t have that kind of power. Yet.

I’m referring to the tooth. Number 18. That’s my last molar on the bottom left (I looked it up on a chart). Monday’s dentist appointment will result in either pain for me… or pain for me. But hopefully dental-related weight loss either way. hehe! (Silver lining, anyone?)

The saga of 18:
I was feeling tooth pain in number 17 (the one right in front of 18) when I was pregnant with Hazel. I went to the dentist, and he said that he couldn’t find any problems, that it must just be a pregnancy symptom (huh?). I was pretty busy, so I just ignored it.

After Hazel was born and the drama of ‘Oh-my-gosh-I-have-two-kids-now-what-the-heck-am-I-doing-here?’ died down, I went to the dentist (a different dentist this time). I went in, and they said that 17 was fine, but 18 was in some major trouble. I told them that that was well and good, but could they make 17 stop hurting please?

After some tinkering, the dentist decided that I need crowns on both teeth. But, because things can never be easy, I also needed a crown lengthening performed in order for them to put on the new crowns. So I had the crown lengthening surgery done. This involved lots of anesthesia, swallowing a bunch of blood, and listening to a periodontist talk to his hygienist about his Brazilian ex-wife. When he was finished, he stitched me up (getting stitches grosses me out, for the record), put putty packing stuff all around the area, and told me to come back in a week to remove the stitches.

A week later, I went in to remove the stitches. When they took the stitches off, there was me, with less gums. And so much pain I could have passed out. I guess a nerve had been exposed. And I really think that no pain that I have experienced comes close to the pain of a swollen, infected, exposed nerve. I couldn’t drink room temperature water because the area was so sensitive. So, he decided to see what he could do–perhaps get me a longer temporary crown. It was so painful that they couldn’t take impressions to make the temporary crown.

He gave me a couple of shots of anesthesia to numb me up, and proceeded to try to remove the most painful parts. (They called this a ‘pulpectomy’ in the insurance docs, if you care.) When dealing with 17 (you know, the one with “no problems”), the pain was intolerable. He tried giving me anesthesia right into the nerve, and I received 5 or 6 shots in total… to no avail. The hygienist had to literally hold me down while the dentist did the pulpectomy because I couldn’t stand the pain. The send me away and tell me to find an endodontist to complete the root canals on both teeth.

I got to New York and found an endodontist. I went to her, and she began the root canals. Somehow, 17 was still my nightmare, and I couldn’t get numb. I toughed it out–if you can call crying, yelling, and wiggling like a teenybopper at a NKOTB concert ‘toughing it out’. I have the last laugh–there is no more nerve in 17, so it will never bother me again.

18 was a different story. Even though it wasn’t a wisdom tooth (or at least, it oughtn’t be since I had those removed ages ago), the roots were all curly like a gnarly, old (but apparently wise) man. The endodontist told me that she didn’t feel comfortable performing the root canal since there’s a good chance that it won’t take. She said that it will be impossible to perform a full root canal on this tooth because of the way it’s shaped. She recommended that I get the tooth pulled and replaced with a dental implant, but that I should talk to my regular dentist.

My regular dentist wanted me to wait and come in when we got back from New York so that he could see it before making any decisions.

So, Monday morning, I find out if I get to have a second root canal done, and then two crowns put on, or if I get to have my tooth pulled, a dental implant, and a crown.

And then I get to make a really long appointment for the rest of my mouth, which is also all messed up.

But can I just say, lest you think I’m gross, I do a good job brushing my teeth. I brush, I floss, and then I brush again… my teeth cleaning routine takes FOREVER.

So, stay tuned to find out the fate of Number 18.

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2 responses to “The Fate of Number 18

  1. Well, I hope it went well. I saw your blog yesterday and I can totally relate. Late last year, I thought I was having a problem with an upper tooth so I off I went to the dentist. She x-rayed it and couldn’t find anything wrong with it but Tooth #19 (right below it) was actually the culprit. Tooth #19 had a root canal several years ago and it appeared that the root canal had failed. So, I had another root canal on that same tooth and an infection was discovered. That infection was medicated and the root canal was completed. Several weeks ago, it started throbbing again. So back to the dentist I went who x-rayed it and saw a massive infection with bone loss. So she referred me to a peridontist who after discussing my situation with my dentist and the endodontist, decided that Tooth #19 needed to come out with a dental implant scheduled as well. Well, let me just say that having a tooth extracted that is also infected is not much fun. The tooth finally came out, bone graft was completed and 10 stitches later, I have a gaping hole where Tooth #19 used to be. Now, I have to wait six months for the bone graft to heal and then I have my implant placed.

    I really wish you the best of luck and hopefully you won’t have any trouble. Once the tooth is out and the pain subsides from the extraction, life is good!

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