Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Root Canal

I can add "root canal" to my "things I wish I'd never had to experience, but it happened" list after yesterday. Fits in nicely with stuff like "9-hour layover in Singapore airport," "rabies shots," and "cancerous tumor removal surgery."
Here's how this happened. About six weeks ago, I had some cavities filled. Most of them were small and there were no issues with those. But one cavity was big and deep. After the filling went in, I had a constant low level ache with occasional pain spikes, so I went back and had it re-done. That helped some, but I was still getting sharp pains when chewing (especially anything crunchy). So I went back again, and my dentist basically said that there was no remaining option outside of a root canal.

I originally thought that the problem may have been a mistake by the dentist on that original filling. That was part of it, as evidenced by the way things got somewhat better after the second attempt. But now I think the larger issue was that the cavity was just too deep for a filling in the first place. X-rays showed that the filling wasn't quite hitting the nerve, but that it was really close. Probably just close enough that some activity (like chewing crunchy stuff) pushed the filling into the nerve, and hurt like crazy.

The actual procedure was fairly uneventful. That local anesthetic that they swab onto/inject into your gums to numb the area works great. Couldn't feel a thing, even after watching ugly-looking needles and drills go by on their way to my mouth. Worst part of the whole process was when the assistant accidentally pulled on my lip with that little suction-tube thing.

I was expecting some pain after the anesthetic wore off, but surprisingly I've had almost none. It's been 24 hours, the numbing wore off hours ago, and I've had nothing more than a mild ache. Perhaps living with the constant ache and chewing pains for the last month-and-a-half got me used to it. Guess I didn't need to buy all that applesauce and oatmeal after all (not that it will go to waste).

I was well prepared for any chewing problems. Unnecessary, as it turns out.
From a financial standpoint, this is the first major test of my current dental insurance structure. The actual insurance can be best described as providing "prevention and basic maintenance" coverage, but it doesn't cover major procedures. (This is different from my medical insurance, which covers everything but with a high deductible.) For the major stuff, I have a health savings account (also useful for those medical deductibles). I expect to pay most of the $700 for the root canal, and whatever the crown work ends up costing, out of the HSA. So that's working exactly how I set it up, and should be no problem as long as this is an isolated incident. Which I sincerely hope it is.

Currently, I've got a temporary filling covering up the hole in my tooth. In another month or so, I get to go back to have a permanent filling put in, and a crown put on to cap the tooth. Until then, I was told I can mostly go on as normal; just be careful not to chew anything too tough/hard on that tooth, and don't eat really sticky stuff that might pull on that temporary filling. So no taffy in my immediate future, and I'll keep chewing on the other side of my mouth. Looking forward to getting this all finished up next month.

1 comment:

  1. Skip, sorry to hear about your dental woes. I've had some similar issues in the past and have had more than a few dental procedures performed. They say that you either have a lot of pain or you tend to bruise after dental work. I also don't have a ton of pain, but find arnica gel useful for any bruising.