A cracked tooth, I haz it!

Don’t you just hate arriving at a blog, thinking it’s going to be the coolest thing since Dan Fogleburg music, and you end up some place like here with some middle-aged woman talking about her ailments?

Well TUFF! I insist that you read every word of this and burst forth with great sympathy for me, the suffering one.

For a couple of weeks, this tooth hurt when I drank hot. It hurt when I drank cold. And it hurt whenever I chewed anything on the left side of my face–my favorite side, ok? The ONE AND ONLY filling I’ve EVER HAD is there, and I have had a bad habit of chewing ice.

Hey lady? Don’t you know that’s bad for you? Yes, I do, but I’m addicted. An old wife once told me a tale that I chew ice because I have bad blood. OKAY, now I’m scared. Because if eating ice kept that bad blood at bay, then now that I’m not eating ice, will the bad blood overtake me totally? I digress, as usual.

I’m tough. I can take the pain. After about the third week, I decided to make an appointment with my dentist, Dr. W. He’s a fun dentist. He plays my kind of music in the waiting room really REALLY LOUDLY! Why? So we can’t hear the people screaming. I love to hear people screaming at the dentist. It somehow calms me because I am so tough. I can bear so much pain. I don’t even get deadened when I get filled, much less get gassed. I won’t even tell you the joke he cracked about laughing gas. He’s a funny dentist who likes to joke—keeps things light and keeps your mind off those big needles and drilling thingies.

I had just been for a check up a month before. He x-rayed then and said if everyone had teeth like mine, he’d be out of business. And then fussed at me for not flossing often enough. And then fussed at me for brushing so hard that I killed some of my gum tissue.

What? Yep, see right here, as he hands me this huge mirror under this embarrassingly bright light. I can see every freckle, wrinkle, and nose hair. Uh, yea. I’ve seen enough–too much! And then he teaches me how to brush gently with a soft-bristled brush. Thanks, Doc, I feel so young again! I digress, again.

So, it’s the 29th and he’s taking another x-ray of that bottom, left Molar called #19. And then he says that ominous “hmmmmm” that they always say when it’s bad news.

Holding the x-ray to the light, he says to no one in particular, “I think Molar #19 is cracked! Open wide”, as he sprays a jet of cold air and I SCREAM!!! He laughs. “Well, I guess we know what’s been causing your pain and hot/cold sensitivity. Gonna have to have a root canal or yank it out. But you need Molar #19, so we’ll try to save it.”

Oh boy, all I know about root canals is that people say they’d rather have a root canal than do thus and such.

Remember, I’m tough, I’m strong, I can take it. And I’m panicking inside because my mouth is jacked open, and I can’t ask the million questions that are flying through my mind about what in the heck this entails. I’m actually scared. Not my style. So, I go into my relaxation state.

“Don’t worry. We don’t have time to do it today.” I relax a bit more. “But I’ll get it started.”

Get it started? There went my relaxation. How do you start a root canal? I give him the halt sign and make him explain. He teases me about having to know too many details, must be one of those “home-school moms”. I’m not amused. He doesn’t care.

I sit calmly, doing my deep breathing as he injects me with about a quart of that deadening agent. I was doing fine until he stuck that needle down INTO the crack and asked me, “Can you feel that?” Of course, by the time the words were out of his mouth, I was moaning and gripping the chair arms. Okay, so it hurt a little.

It wasn’t too bad. Childbirth was definitely worse, at least one of them was worse! Now the tooth is partway drilled out and stuffed with cotton soaked in some kind of tasty yucky numbing stuff. Then he seals the top with something white. He hands me an RX for a mild pain killer, which I take begrudingly, because I hardly ever take a Tylenol for a headache. I’m tough, remember?

And then the clincher, “Come back on the 18th of February.”

February 18? I can’t wait that long. I’m a busy woman. I can’t be incapacitated. He disappears for a moment and comes back with 2 Aleve, a glass of water, and a paper towel for the dribbles. “How’s that for service?” So, he feels sorry for me now or what? I take the meds and head out. Thanks.

As soon as I get home, I call the receptionist back and beg her to put me on the short-call list and call me AS SOON AS there is a cancellation and enough time to finish this up.

The next day, the headaches set in, and I’ve had them ever since. So much so that I can’t even eat much. Now everyone knows  I’m sick. I’ve had nausea, chills, and sleeping spells. The receptionist calls two days later and says there’s an opening on the morning of Monday the 4th. “I’LL TAKE IT, AND I’LL DANCE AT YOUR WEDDING!”

Fast forward to the 4th. I tell him about the terrible headaches. He says they don’t sound tooth related. Ok, whatever.

Nothing goes right. The 2 regular assistants are out for the Mardi Gras Holidays. Great. The girl filling in has no idea what’s what. Here I am, cranked back with a rubber dental dam and wire jacking my mouth open, no one is suctioning me, and they keep stopping to find the right tools. This is turning quickly surreal. I start to panick, which I’ve never done before. And soon, I am giving them signals like I’m leading the band. What follows is almost comical, like a guessing game.

The assistant: “What? Does it hurt? You can’t breath? What’s wrong with your throat? Dr. W., I think she needs to sit up.”

Yes, there is something wrong with my throat, I think, as the chair rises. I bolt straight up with eyes getting bigger each second as my lips turn blue. I have so much goop in my throat, I feel like I’m drowning. I can’t swallow because that damn dam thing has my mouth propped open, and now the nurse panics.

Nurse: “She needs to take this thing out.”

Dr. W: “Go ahead and take it out.”

Nurse: “Hurry, I don’t know how, and she can’t breathe.”


After I swallow, and then rinse (what’s the point? I swallowed the nasty stuff already) and swallow again. I let the chair lay me back. Now, I’m totally not relaxed!

Dr. W.: “I’m sorry. I usually ask if the patient can swallow. I didn’t ask you. Those 2 sure picked a bad time to take off at the same time. Here hold this.” He hangs a little suction hose inside my lip and proceeds to tell me I can suction myself. “Won’t that be fun? You can go as far down your own throat as you like.”

Now, I’m thinking Dr. W.’s jokes aren’t so funny. I’m also thinking that it’s a really good thing that I have the kind of teeth that might put him out of business.

And do you think I want to lie back and continue this torture? I think not, but I must. I’m tough, remember?

Shall I spare you the gory details? Yes, I will. Sorry to those of you who are weird enough to want to relish in my suffering. After an hour, and all the nerve and tissue is drilled and sucked out of the canals, he cannot get them filled. Molar #19’s roots are super long, and one of them as a nasty curve in it. I wonder what the x-ray was for?

He says it like he’s announcing every day news.

“I’m packing this and sealing it and referring you to a specialist.”

Say what again? You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s the middle of Mardi Gras Holidays, and no one will be open. Right I am. Of the two specialists, one will be out until the 7th and the other until the 13th. Can’t even make an appointment until then.

On the 7th, Specialist No. 1 says he can see me on the 18th to “take a look”. That’s the best he can do. Oh no, buddy, you better do more than take a look. I’ve had enough of this and all these headaches. I can’t wait that long.

Last weekend Dr. W. calls, inquiring about the headaches. I don’t hold back. I tell all. “Hmmmm.” He’s thinking. He explains that a cracked tooth can cause a shift in the bite and he thinks that’s what’s causing the headaches. Then he informs me he’s calling in a mild pain reliever that he wants me to FILL AND USE this time. And he’ll check on me later.

And that night he does. I’m feeling better, but I’m on 3 Ibuprofen, not Darvocet, thank you very much. And then I get aggressive.

I requested demanded nicely that he call in a favor first thing Monday morning and get me in to see one of those specialists before th 18th. He hems and haws and says he’ll have his girl call. NO! I think you should do it. I think he’s flabbergasted that I’m so assertive. Hey, it’s the least he can do after I laughed at his jokes and never lost my cool over the accidental near-drowning. And he knows it.

This morning, while I was on a wetland tour, he calls my cell and tells me he wants me to come in at 3 today and let him adjust my bite. He really thinks it will help with the headaches until I can get the root canal finished. I agree, but he ain’t weezling out of calling in a favor for me, sir. I won!

I am pleased to say, that Specialist No. 2 is coming in from New Orleans tomorrow, and is going to work me in to try to get this taken care of for me.

Well it’s about darn time, too, don’t ya think?

Please keep your fingers crossed, wave your lucky rabbit’s foot, or pray, whatever you can do to help me get this thing OVER AND DONE WITH Tuesday!

Is anyone still here? Hello? Did you make it to the end? If you did, thanks for the sympathetic ear!

PS: The appointment is at 2:30 today (Tuesday)


PPS: I waited 45 minutes to see the dental assistant and then the Root Canal Specialist. I was finished in 30 minutes! Isn’t that amazing? Was is that easy? Was it so simple? Wow! All I got was a consult that cost me $85. He thinks he can fix it. Do I get my consult fee back if he can’t? Do I have to pay for the $995 procedure if he can’t? I have I get to go to New Orleans for the privilege of finding out on Thursday. The blue font reflects my state of mind–blue as can be! And wondering what I’m supposed to learn from all this. I’ve had enough–more than enough!
Blue BW


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A cracked tooth, I haz it! — 13 Comments

  1. I’m here. I read it to the bitter end and I’m just cringing for you. Good God Almighty, they’d have to strap me down and knock me out to get me to sit still during a root canal, not that I’ve ever had one. Getting crowns is bad enough. Hope it’s better soon. Hang in there, chere!

    Crosby, TX

    Oh, Patricia, thanks so much! It’s so good to know I have one reader who has a big heart! I think I might opt for laughing gas and then I’ll know if what Dr. W. said about it is true!!!

    Is Wilson your maiden name? If so, we might be related!!!

  2. Our dentist doesn’t even do root canals anymore. She sends us to “The Specialist”. I’ve had 2 done…..NO PAIN! I too had heard the same horror stories.
    I went to the dentist last month thinking I had a cracked filling. Tap water or sucking in air would bring me to my knees. Turned out, nothing wrong with my tooth at all. I had a sinus infection. Long roots and a low sinus cavity don’t go together well.
    Anyway, I hope your “Specialist” is as good as mine. I also hope you have dental insurance, THEY AIN’T CHEAP!

    The dentist told me that the specialist knows it’s a tough one if he referred me because he’s very good at root canals the majority of the time. Actually, I was never afraid until I choked! I hope it goes well. There is a chance the crack is too bad and I will lose the tooth. I just can’t afford the lose it, though. I need it!

  3. There comes a point when you ask yourself, “Should we just have gone on and pulled the tooth?”
    I have the kind of teeth that KEEP a dentist in business. Many crowns. Insurance is a joke, so it’s always an expensive proposition.
    I feel your pain – all the way around.

    Thanks Emilie. Are y’all all well?

  4. Go ahead and have the gas — it’s great! I plug in to a favorite CD, breathe deep and relax and let them do their thing. I’m a coward. I admit it. So I may as well be a relaxed coward.

    Nope, my maiden name is McMahon, born in Alexandria, LA, a long time ago.

    Thanks for the advice! They just called and appointment is at 2:30!!

  5. Well, by now you should be finished. Hope all went well and that all your pain has disappeared.

    Am I the only one who thinks Funny Dr. W began “crawfishing”? Why else would someone who said your pain is not because of your tooth start calling YOU – not once, but twice?

    I don’t know. Maybe he likes me?!! Guess what, I have to go type a PPS right now!

  6. I had a root canal years back “performed” by a “Dr.” Thomas Foster in Baton Rouge. He called me twice at home after the butchery to see if I was ok. When the novocain finally wore off I realized why he was so concerned. That midevil barber failed to remove all of the nerve endings and drilled a really nice hole in my tongue!

  7. I’ve been out of touch for a few days and then read all this about you! Yikes! I’m hoping to hear you’re having a speedy recovery! This has gone on for you long enough.

  8. I’ve been out of touch for a few days and then read all this about you! Yikes! I’m hoping to hear you’re having a speedy recovery! This has gone on for you long enough.

  9. This is a dreadful story! I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with this! And all that back and forth with the offices, I can’t imagine! Few things make one feel as inhuman as a painful mouth.

    [One day maybe Emilie will share with you the story of how I tried to comfort her one day, and instead sent her home with a cracked tooth. We have tooth history…]

    Sorry I’ve been absent. School has been overwhelming me, and I’m desperately trying to resurface.

  10. OOOooooh I feel ya hon. Thanks to a couple of “accidents” I have had way too much dental work. The only way I get through them is to take music with headphones with me. I once thought…hey, Im too old for this stuff and tried getting through all that without my tunes…NEVah again!!!! I crank it up and block them out hon!!!! I also have had post dental problems…once they placed a metal crown on the bottom under a metal filling on top…every time my teeth came together I got excruiating pain/shock. They wanted to make me an appointment…I told them I was on my way right then and there…of course they worked me in, they had no other choice. Take care hon…
    Have Termite message your neck, jaw line and the base of your skull, then full scalp, to see if that may relax your HA’s a bit…when your bite is off, you produce tension HA’s.

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