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Showing posts from December, 2009

Root Canals II

Four days later, I got back in the dentist's chair. My gums, lymph glands and chin were swollen, even though I was taking antibiotics. "What happens if the tooth is still infected?" I asked with a pineapple-flavored swab in my mouth. "We'd do a temporary filling and let it drain, let it heal, then do a permanent filling." The dentist looked in my mouth and seemed surprised. "Amoxicillin kills 99.9% of infections." He said I needed broader spectrum antibiotic. He gave me a shot that made me numb from my front teeth to my inner ear. A few minutes later, he and his assistant started work and I squealed. "Cold," I explained. The assistant put something fibrous behind my lip and started again. It felt like they were removing tartar from the tooth next to the infected one. Awhile later, the dentist said he was done. That was it? I didn't know they'd started drilling. The assistant spent the next few minutes getting all the fiber out of

Root Canals: Better than they Used to Be

"Root canal" used to be a metaphor for pain. When the dentist told me last week that I had to have one (or else have the tooth pulled), I didn't know what a root canal was. I only knew that it couldn't be worse than the tooth infection that brought me to the dentist. The day before, after going to bed feeling fine, I work up with what felt like a recurrence of my TMJ problems. By mid-afternoon, I couldn't bite a sandwich without intense pain. I tried cloves, vanilla extract, ibuprofin, and acupressure, some of which brought mild relief. The next day, after examining me, the dentist pulled out his I-phone and played a computer generated video of a root canal. A tiny, flexible drill removed the affected nerve and the space left by it was filled. It seemed simple enough, but I had a few questions: ME: Can't the infection be cured with antibiotics? DR: No, the infection will go away and you'll feel better for about a month. Then it'll come back. The nerve