Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Tooth-monger

Tomorrow, I have an appointment for my first root canal.  And I'm silently a little terrified!  I'm trying so diligently to keep my wits about me, and put on the brave this-is-nothing face, but there is something so menacing about the thought of having a root.....canal.  It does NOT sound like anything pleasant, or even ho-hum.  It sounds really vicious!  The little girl in me is cringing as I think about dental pain.  That searing, up the side of your face pain....oooh, it makes me shiver to recall and imagine.  I feel a bit like a lamb being led to the slaughterhouse. 

The need for my root canal is due, in part to the Tooth-monger.  You may be more familiar with his wonderful, happy cousin, the Tooth Fairy.  The Tooth-monger is a terrible creature that seeks out the weak and sick among our teeth and sucks the remaining life out of them, leaving a cold, empty shell of sad enamel.  He evidently made a very silent visit to one of my very back molars at some point over the past year or so.  Let me tell you my sad little tooth story:

Last week, the day after Christmas, I had some mild pain on my upper right jaw.  I knew it was a tooth, but I didn't know which kind of radiated, so it was hard to pinpoint.  Throughout the day, the pain became pretty intense and I bought some Orajel and Motrin to start self-medicating (we nurses, we're all alike).  I was silently hoping and praying everything would go away...Kristoffer's internship, while a great opportunity, yields no benefits.  No such luck the next day, so I looked up any discount dental programs I could find.  I chose a dental school with attached discounted dental services office in Orem.  I went in the next day and the dentist broke me the bad news.  After gently tapping my teeth and looking at the X-rays, he told me that I had a dead tooth.  What?!  I was a little bemused and slightly embarrassed!  I felt like such an irresponsible tooth owner!!  A sick tooth, a filling, a's all normal right?  But, a dead tooth?!  I'll admit, I did feel a little ashamed.  So he went on to explain that I had a fairly large filling in that tooth (it must have been quite some time ago, the last filling I had was when I was in high school), and that my tooth had not fully recovered from having such a large filling.  I had no idea that teeth...recovered, who knew?  He said it looked as though it had been brewing for a year and half or two, but the only option to save the tooth was to do a root canal. 

There it was.  The lump in my throat and worried crease in my brow were, I'm sure, very noticeable.  My throat was lumping and brow was furrowing for the added expense and of course the trepidation of the procedure.  Curse that Tooth-monger!!  My one solace was that the entire office staff was superbly nice and my dentist was SUPER nice...if he thought less of me for having a dead tooth, he certainly didn't let it show.

So the hubs and I chatted that evening as we came to grips with our forced ownership of a brand new bundle of dental bills.  And, as we chatted, he shed a little more light on my dead-tooth conundrum.  He works with a fellow, and he and his wife have six children.  This fellow told my husband that his wife has had to have a root canal after just about every baby.  !!!  Imagine!  Obviously, in their journey, they must have questioned their dentist about this root-canal mystery of their own...and what information did they glean?  Pregnancy and breastfeeding.  This fellow told my husband that pregnancy and subsequent breastfeeding absolutely SUCK the calcium from your wife's body, and that my teeth...are first on the menu.  So he told Kristoffer to make sure I was taking an extra calcium supplement to hopefully prevent this in the future.

It all made sense now.  Everything was coming into focus.  I kid you not when I tell you that my fillings are all from high school, at the latest.  And since that was 10 years ago (!), and I've had no issues until now, and my tooth has only died recently, it must have been due in part to my pregnancies, and my current total of 22 months of nursing....and that horrible Tooth-monger.  I should have known about that calcium thing!!  So, to all you women out there having and nursing babies, take your prenatals AND an extra calcium supplement!!

If I've learned anything from this experience so far, it's THAT.  So send me some happy thoughts for tomorrow.  I'll be sitting in that dentist chair at 9am, clutching my i-Pod and shivering (the dentist's office is always cold) and trying to ward off my stealthy imagination from conjuring up images of axe wielding psychotic zombie-dentists.  If I'm lucky, he'll find that wretched Tooth-monger and clean his clock.


Scotty and Emi said...

OY VEY. Last time I had a cavity, I took my MP3 player and I hardly knew anything was happening! It was done before I knew it! :D

Mrs. Pedersen said...

UGH. I hope it goes smoothly and you have a speedy recovery!

Tabitha said...

There, there ... it will be all right :) I know what you mean. I always feel TERRIBLY self-conscious and irresponsible at the dentist. I think of all the things I could have done differently to avoid fillings or whatever. Luckily, I've not had a root canal ... yet. (Knock on wood). I had 4 fillings done in one day about a year ago. It was manageable. You've learned to manage pain through natural childbirth, though. You can do it!

Valerie said...

I hope the visit went well without too much pain this weekend. I've never had a root canal, but had all 4 wisdom teeth removed and that was awful.