12 August, 2011

The Never-Ending Tooth Problem

I've got what can best be described as a "problem tooth."  The first problem with this tooth was back in January 2007.  That's when my dentist saw a small cavity.  According to this blog post from March of that year, the small cavity wasn't filled in time (through no fault of my own) and needed a root canal, which took 2 appointments to complete and then got infected.  Ironically, at that time I was referring to this as the never ending cavity.  If only I had known...

Right after the crown was put on, I was convinced there was a problem. I kept cutting my tongue on a sharp spot on the inside, but the dentist poked, x-rayed, and otherwise inspected and said there was no problem with the crown.

Fast-forward to August of 2010.  The crown on the problem tooth had cracked and was starting to crumble away. I returned to the dentist, and he decided to have a new lab-made crown made.  He put a temporary seal on top of the tooth, and sent me on my way.  I was supposed to return the following Monday to have the new crown put on, and took the day off to accomplish this.  They called me Monday morning to cancel because the lab hadn't returned the new crown.  The woman who called me was rude, didn't apologize, and didn't call back to reschedule once the crown came in.  When I e-mailed and brought the terrible customer service to the attention of the dentist, he e-mailed me back and basically said "don't come back."

So I didn't.

And unfortunately I waited until early this year to finally make an appointment with another dentist.  And then it took until April for the new crown to be made and cemented into place.  It hurt the day he put it in.  When the assistant dry-fitted the crown, it felt like it was too big.  The dentist just jammed it in and said it was fine.  It felt like the crown had little barbs on the bottom that were digging into my gums.

It was sensitive, but I sort of shrugged and figured it was all part of the healing process.  Then I started to notice that occasionally when I bit down on that side that there was some sort of "old man denture breath" liquid squeezing out.  After the first two wisdom teeth were removed (on the opposite side of my mouth), that tooth got super sensitive.  My dentist took a look and said "crown looks good," but perhaps there was a secondary infection under the tooth that would require an endodontist to re-drill the tooth.  When he suggested we wait a few weeks, I was happy to oblige.

When I had the other two wisdom teeth removed, I mentioned that the tooth was no better.  He said maybe it's just crowded in my (small) mouth and that removing the wisdom teeth would help.  It didn't.  So finally I got a referral to an endodontist.

Two weeks ago I went to the endo, who took a look at the x-ray and said the root canal was beautiful and that the problem was with the crown.  After talking to me, and sensing my displeasure at the idea of being sent back to my dentist, he recommended a course of treatment that would rely solely on a periodontist.  (at this point I encourage you to look into the term "tooth lengthening" or "crown lengthening," but not to click on wikipedia)  I got a call from the endo's office on my way home, and she said that my regular dentist said he could do that procedure in office.  Yeah.  Right.

I got a referral to the periodontist for this morning, and went for a combo consultation & treatment appointment.  Imagine my lack of surprise when he removed my crown and asked, "was that temporarily cemented, or was it supposed to be permanent?" I laughed out loud.  Well, I guess that explains the smell!

So after today's procedure (which really wasn't bad at all), my crown was temporarily cemented back into place.  I go back in 10 days for a post-op appointment (oh - haha - I'm not allowed to brush or floss that tooth until then. thanks for the special mouthwash, doc!), and the crown isn't going to be permanently cemented back into place for "a few months."

Four years, four dentists, and well over $1,000 out-of-pocket later, I am ready to be done with this process.  My jaw is still numb, but I have a good feeling that perhaps this time will be the beginning of the end of this saga.  (and yes, Scott just brought me a chair to knock on)  I'm hoping to be able to chew on both sides of my mouth again in a few weeks.  For now, nothing sharp like chips or popcorn (or cereal, I guess), and a few days without a straw or hot drinks or spicy food.'s like having another wisdom tooth removed!

No comments: