Friday 14 January 2011

Canals and crowns

Regular readers of my blog will know that this year my life is going to revolve around my dentist. I had hoped that by now the dental extravaganza would have begun, but no. I went to see the dentist again this week in the expectation of agreeing a timetable for the proposed works. He is unable to do some of the procedures himself, that he thinks I require, and has referred me to one of his colleagues. I have an appointment or rather a consultation to see the colleague next week for him to explain what needs to be done, what my options are and most painful of all what it will cost. So for now here is the saga of last year's dental odyssey. I have tried to enlighten this post with a photograph, taken last Autumn, of the Shropshire Union Canal which runs through the south east corner of our village.


For as long as I can remember I have been to a dentist for regular check ups. My earliest memory of a visit to the dentist is as a young child fighting with my brother for who would be first to get into the dentist's chair for as ride up and down. I must have been about four years old when the dentist suggested that I stop sucking my thumb or my front teeth would stick out. Not wanting rabbit/buck teeth I stopped sucking my thumb, but it was already too late the damage had been done. When my second teeth came through they stuck out slightly. Both the dentist and I hoped that they might put themselves right, but they didn't. Shortly after my fourteenth birthday the dentist decided that it was time to tackle the problem. He started by making an impression of my teeth and from it he made a  cast of my teeth. I can still clearly remember my father taking me to the dentist to see the cast and make a decision about orthodontics. No child volunteers to wear a brace, but I took one look at the cast of my teeth and decided that I could not go through life with teeth that looked as mine did and so began around two years of orthodontics which involved frequent and regular visits to the dentist to have my brace adjusted. I lost all fear of the dentist and to this day I would rather go to the dentist than the hairdresser.

In May last year when the date of my six monthly check up came round,  I didn't bat an eyelid. As far as I was aware my teeth were fine. After the usual pleasantries and initial look at my teeth and mouth the dentist started poking around with a variety of different implements. He was  no longer making small talk and the expression on his face was serious. Being slightly cynical I though that he was looking for work as I had not had anything more than a check up for some time. He told me that he needed to take an X-ray. Whilst that was developing he explained that he had found a gum boil which indicated that the root of one of my back molars had died. My options were a root canal filing followed by a crown or if I left the tooth until I had toothache and a full blown abscess his only option would be to extract the tooth. That would leave a gap requiring a denture, bridge or an implant. I was not totally surprised by his finding as I had noticed a small swelling in my mouth the previous week but it was not bothering me and I had been too busy to even look at it to see what it might be. The dentist commented that this must be quite a shock to me as I had no obvious symptoms and suggested that I think about it. The shock was the cost of it all. None of the options was cheap. The decision on the course of action was obvious, regardless of the cost. I had not endured two years of orthodontics as a teenager to end up with dentures!

Four weeks later I presented myself at the dentist's to have the root canal filing done. After an injection which numbed all of he right side of my face, my mouth was clamped open for the duration of the procedure by a plastic guard. The process was slow and fiddly and at one point both the dentist and his nurse tried to put both of their hands plus implements into my mouth, at the same time! Another four weeks on and I was back again. This time for the dentist to check that all was well with the filing before he proceeded to crown the tooth. A few weeks later and it was back to the torture chamber for me. Another numb face, four impressions, an array of drills and eventually my temporary crown was fitted. Another two weeks and the permanent crown had been made and was ready to be fitted. The ease with which the dentist removed the temporary crown was unnerving. One quick flick and it was off. For two weeks I had been happily chomping away on it. Hopefully the permanent crown had been fixed with stronger cement. No more dentist appointments for six months now, or so I hoped.

In between my check up appointment and actually having the root canal filing I read this article in The Times about root canal filings. They are a very skilled procedure. Some dentists no longer do them preferring to refer patients to a dentist who does. Others continue to offer the procedure but it would be better if they did not. I was lucky in that the problem was picked up at a routine check up. I had no toothache and consequently no need for painkillers or antibiotics. However, I have not been so lucky with my current problem.


Miss Sadie said...

Oh, dear! How utterly horrid. Tess, whose blog is "Life at Willow Manor," has just been through a root canal procedure. She survived. I trust you will too. But what an incredible amount of bother for you.

Perhaps you have some of your money invested in gold?

Manchester Lass, Now and Then said...

Give me the hairdresser anytime:) I so feel for you and hope that the current situation can be resolved. I have a very small jawline and it's a nightmare having work done. I've had 3 crowns in the past few years at a cost of $1500 each and I still need several more. I don't have private medical insurance (which most cover dental) Dental work is not covered under our health scheme here. Both my children had braces and ouch did the cost hurt. Good luck CW with future work, hope it all goes well and is painfree:) Linda xxx

Jennytc said...

Here's hoping that your future dental work goes well and is straightforward. However hard I try, I just can't bring myself to say that I would rather go to the dentist than the hairdresser! :)

Maggie May said...

Oh dear, that sounds dreadful. You have been very brave. I hate going and only do so because I am scared of the consequences if I don't.
Hoping you will be seen quickly & get it put right.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

the fly in the web said...

I hated the dentist when young....relic of the school dental service...but in later life found a wonderful Scots dentist who cured the fear, did a root canal job and tidied up my teeth.
Now in Costa Rica there seem to be good dentists on every corner, at about the same prices as in France where getting an appointment in a rural area was very difficult as the number of dentists willing to live in the sticks declined.
I am sorry that you have ongoing problems.....have you thought about having your dental work done in Poland? I know in Belgium there are organised 'teeth tourism' trips there.

mrsnesbitt said...

Ouch!I love my dentist - he is very understanding and gentle.

cheshire wife said...

Miss Sadie - they don't made crowns from gold anymore but I still seem to have a lot of money invested in my teeth.

Manchester Lass - keeping your teeth is expensive but it is preferable to the alternative.

Jennyta - you have not seen some of my haircuts!

MM - I don't fancy the alternative either.

Fly - I have an old Scots dentist to thank for a lot of my dental problems.

mrsnesbitt - who is your dentist?

Catharine Withenay said...

Blimey, you have been through it. I hope that you don't have too many more problems like this in the year ahead.

Akelamalu said...

Although I religiously go for check ups at the dentist I am terrified. I'm not quite sure how I have volunteered for veneers on four of my lower front teeth. The treatment started today. Give me the hairdresser anytime. :(

Jennyff said...

I've had more dental work during my 61 years than most. My mouth is full of crowns, root fillings, pinned teeth, a complete patchwork from various dentists as I've moved around. I dread the thought that as I get older I shall need more drastic work, a friend has just had implants that have been extremely painful. I've had a front crown for over 30 years and eaten hundreds of crisp apples, I hope yours is as secure.

LindyLouMac said...

I am back at last catching up on all the posts I missed while I was away from computing while on an extended trip to the UK. You have not had a good time recently, poor you. Despite the dental treatment I wish you a good 2011.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I always seem to be having trouble with my teeth and at the moment have yet another gum infection. Due to have crown work done in a couple of weeks!

Interested to read about your thumb sucking. My eldest grandson always had a dummy/soother as a baby. I used to take it away as much as possible but he had it for a couple of years. He now has buck teeth and is going to need to wear a brace at some stage. Happily, these days, the young seem to find them a fashion accessory. A

cheshire wife said...

CW - I am afraid that there will be more dental problems but this year they will be different.

Akelamalu - I have one veneer. I don't remember it being a problem.

Jenny - my mouth seems to be going the same way. It's depressing isn't it.

LLM - thank you.

SJA - having your own teeth is better than the alternative. Hope that your gums are soon better.

Susie Vereker said...

What an ordeal. Glad you survived.

Eddie Storms said...

I'm glad that you've overcome all the obstacles that you've been through. It's not that easy going to your dentist all the time just to get your teeth fixed. But keep that in mind that without them, we may not be confident enough to smile in front of the world and we may not be able to have a very beautiful smile. I always find time going to my dentist in Atlanta, Georgia and have a regular check-up. My dentist is very great actually and he knows a lot on Dentistry (Atlanta) that's why he gives me a lot of tips on how to take care of my teeth at home.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, there's a med that makes this not so worse called, rxmex , i had to take 2 teeth out last week because they were twisting my front ones very awful.