When I grew up, dentistry was about drilling & filling, not prevention. And I grew up in Japan, where pain builds character. So every visit to the dentist involved pain, and it really wasn’t until we moved to California that I began seeing a dentist regularly for check-ups and prevention. I also learned the wonders of nitrous oxide for reducing the anxiety I still carry.
People still talk about root canals as a big deal, but they have become so so fast and painless. The only thing you are likely to experience is jaw-ache for a couple of days, just from the abuse. Nothing like the root canal I had done in Japan 20 years ago! Our local dentist would drill down until I’d start waving my arms, and he’d say, “Hang on, a little bit more.” Then he’d smear something on, and ask me to come back in a few days. Repeat this a few times. Finally, he inserted a long wire, wound it around inside my tooth, and pulled. My body convulsed and I broke out in a cold sweat, and he held up the nerve with a smile saying, “There, it’s done.”
So my root canal a week-and-a-half ago was no problem. But something ain’t right, because after I recovered from the jaw-ache, the pain returned with a vengeance. Was the procedure not successful? I doubt that, because I see a specialist who uses a microscope and computer-enhanced x-ray imagery to check his work. Is another tooth in the area upset? That seems unlikely; I didn’t think I had any more teeth back there that still had nerves! I’m betting that because I had to wait so long to get the root canal, something else got infected. So I’m back on antibiotics, but they don’t seem to be doing the trick. I have spent nearly a week in pain. Even when I look OK, I’m actually tolerating some amount of pain. Like right now.
Update (2/20): The endodontist saw me yesterday afternoon. He touched the sides of various teeth with a cold cotton swab as I watched in a mirror. The one he had last done didn’t feel at all, as expected. Others just felt cold. But two teeth away, it went zing!
So I had another root canal, and now I feel so much better.
This endodontist is so fast that I was in the middle of the 6th song on my iPod when he finished — and I skipped at least two of those songs. Granted, this was a tooth with only one root, but still!