I had to leave the uni tute early today (just when we were were actually having a USEFUL discussion about the essay!) to go to the endodontist, because when I saw my own dentist the other week about this horrible big sore molar she said “no, that one looks too difficult for me, I’m referring you to to the endodontist, because if you need root canals or a crown he can give you a better assessment and quote and we can work out where to go from there”.
The problem being that this particular tooth is more (old, amalgam) filling than tooth and the small piece of tooth that is left had cracked, and was flexing and hurting. A LOT. Which was greatly contributing to my pain, misery, and general grumpiness. And anxiety. Because I have a well earned terror of dentists, reinforced by many traumatic experiences from Dubbo to Wagga Wagga, from Canberra to Toowoomba. (Hint: if EVER a dentist suggests you get your wisdom teeth taken out “in the chair”, unstrap yourself AND RUN.)
And tooth horror stores are everywhere – once you start, people just can’t WAIT to share them – a long time ago I had 3 long, slow, painful root canals on a tooth on the other side of my mouth, then the tooth had to be pulled out anyway. “Oh yeah, my husband paid $3000 for a crown, had to have 4 root canals to get it done, then it came off the next year and he had to pay another $500 to get it glued back on!” “Yeah, No, my Aunty Rita, she had a crown put on and then got an abscess under it, they had to take it all off again, and her whole jaw swelled right up and she had to have months of antibiotics and she could only eat soup ’til it healed!
(Oh, and if you have teeth issues, probably don’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is a really good fantasy read, set in Prague, and elsewhere, but with teeth as a powerful magical metaphor… you can watch the trailer for the book here on Amazon …)
SO: the interesting things: apart from the OUCH $400 for just over half an hour consult (not sure how much I get back from heath fund yet because the paperwork got messed up and I have to go back tomorrow to get it fixed) *headdesk* And my answering the question on the form “Any other medical issues?” with “Extremely anxious patient (I AM REALLY NOT KIDDING ABOUT THIS)” and noting “There is not enough room to list all medicati0ns (Please see over for rest of medicat1ons) (And yes, I took an anx1olytic in the car on the way there so I wouldn’t freak out in the chair); it turns out that most of my teeth are CRACKED. The endodontist asked “Have you ever been in a car crash?” Ummmm… no… could it be from grinding my teeth? No, apparently this sort of cracking is more from a forceful coming together of the teeth. So possibly when I got hit in the jaw? Maybe. (Domestic Violence, the gift that just keeps on giving, 20 + years later…) The endodontist showed me with a special light and mirror that every single one of my teeth has these vertical impact cracks. EVERY ONE. So I’m likely to keeping having odd problems with my teeth as a result.
Next interesting thing – the endodontist was also surprised that I manage to grind my teeth while wearing a full face CPAP mask. Says that’s quite a feat. Shouldn’t be able to do it. Not sure it’s something the judges on Australia’s Got Talent would be all that thrilled to see, but there ya go. My own special thing. I’m such a snowflake.
And I have exceptionally good oral hygiene (preen, preen.) Given that I have such a range of mouth drying med1cations, and the CPAP machine, and asthma meds on top of that, I really am very pleased to hear that. Not a scrap of plaque or tartar anywhere. Go me! He has recommended that I use a special mouthwash three times a week to help with the dry mouth (I already use a toothpaste formulated for dry mouth, and my electric toothbrush has made a big difference, I think) and yep, I will give in and chew the dreaded chewing gum to help with saliva production. I don’t like chewing gum, which is weird -my Dad is always chewing it to help his teeth (and he is a mad keen flosser, too) but my Nana, his Mum, said something to me one day when I was staying with her about chewing gum being vulgar and it’s just stuck (ugh! sticky chewing gum!) in my head (UGH! CHEWING GUM IN HAIR!) ever since. You know when you see a “celebrity” photo and they’ve got visible gum in their mouth? VULGAR. UGH UGH UGH!!! That endless chomping like ruminants on their cud, round and around and side to side and it’s just…. UGH!!!! But If I have to use chewing gum I will. Just… discreetly. For the sake of my saliva production.
And now to the tooth. THE TOOTH. THE DREADED TOOTH that the whole of the last few weeks have been about, that my psychiatrist was trying to find a way to get me special Medicare funding for if it turned out it needed a crown, the tooth I wept about in group therapy, the tooth that I had been worrying about because my own dentist had said that it might need all that work and I was panicking about how on earth I would afford root canals and crowns and what’s more, maintenance on a crown further down the track (short answer – I wouldn’t have been able to, the only option would have been for the tooth to come out).
And guess what? After all that: the simplest solution for now (it’s not a long term fix) was to actually take away some more of the tooth so that I can’t actually grind the cusp and make it flex open and hurt. After an x-ray (that’s about the 6th? dental x-ray this year? Oh, goody) and the endodontist looking at it with his magic high powered microscope, he could see the fracture but the tooth was alive with no infection and he reckons if we can just stop the flexing then it should stop hurting and settle down … so the short answer is: hope it settles. Keep doing a good job with the dental hygiene. Try not to grind my teeth (even though the endodontist very truthfully and realistically admitted that if you’re a tooth grinder, you just are, and until you’re not as stressed, you won’t stop.) And he won’t do any drastic interventions unless they’re needed – the less he can do the better, which would be FINE if it didn’t cost quite so much but is still a policy agree with in principle.
So now we wait…