I had my root canal today. One week earlier, I was eating lunch and thinking, “wait, that feels sharp. Oh, crap.” At lunchtime today, I was thinking, “wait, that feels too smooth. Oh, crap.”
Last week, I waited for almost an hour to get taken back for an exam. Today I had barely gotten into the chair in the waiting room when they called me back. I felt like that was a good sign; starting quick, ending quick. Git ‘er done.
(You know how quiz shows have a buzzer sound that indicates a wrong answer? Pretend I have one of those.)
I was told the procedure would take about an hour and a half. I expected to be back at my desk, a five-minute walk across the street, by 11:30 a.m. Instead, I strolled in around 1:00 p.m.
See, the tooth I needed…I’m going to call what they did “excavated”…is (was?) the last tooth on the top row on the left side of my mouth. That’s pretty difficult to get to. On top of that, there was the cavity to get rid of, and then there was an extra canal in there somewhere as well (which, according to the venerable medical journal Wikipedia, is actually fairly common in molars). Of course I’d be difficult. All that extra time and work…and pulling and contorting of my face…naturally leads to more swelling and discomfort in the end. Of course.
Despite reassurances that “it’s not that bad,” it was almost assuredly a reasonably bad experience. Whenever you get a needle they tell you, “oh, you’ll just feel a little pinch.” That’s bull. It didn’t feel like a pinch; it felt like she was putting a needle into my gum. The weird part is that I could feel the liquid anesthetic dripping into my gum; like, I could feel it trickling in. Kind of off-putting.
I could also feel them working on the tooth a little bit. I assume it would have been significantly worse without any anesthetic, and there were a couple times where I thought about signalling for more. In fact, towards the end of the procedure, one poke in particular caused my body to involuntarily jolt a little bit. “Did that hurt?” she asked. Nah, I like to fake the occasional convulsion when people have fingers and instruments in my mouth. Just a fun little game I play.
Apparently they have to fabricate a crown somewhere off-site, which means I have a temporary one for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, it feels like a mess because it’s the last tooth, which means there is nothing but gum to affix it to on one side. It feels like there is a wad of silly putty in the back of my mouth.
I was very careful eating dinner (just some rice because yeah right am I actually going to chew anything seven hours later), and quickly came to a realization: I will never know if I have food caught back there, because what’s left of my natural tooth is “dead,” and the nerve is gone, so I won’t feel anything. As I ran my tongue around the area to clean out any stray grains, the lack of sensation was, in and of itself, a strange sensation.
The tooth is so far back that if I open my mouth to smile or speak to you, you’ll never be able to tell what’s going on back there. The problem is that I can. I’ve been told that once the swelling goes down, and then later once the permanent crown is in there, it will feel much better. To the point that I won’t even think about it anymore, that I will eat and drink normally, that it won’t feel like I have a foreign body resting in my gums.
As of right this second, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, but I remain hopeful. Until then, I guess I have no choice but to grin and bear it.
(Pun so incredibly intended.)