Your Tooth Is Fractured, but It’s Fine

Dear Reader,

I know that I’m not the only adult out there who fears going to the dentist. I have suffered a moderate amount of physical (and an excruciating amount of emotional) suffering at the gloved hands of dentists.

During childhood, my trips to the dentist were mostly normal — baby teeth fell out naturally, and adult ones came in as expected. In fact, I have even had a pleasant surprise at the dentist — I was only born with one wisdom tooth, which meant less surgery to remove just the one tooth. However, at some point during my adolescence, my luck with the dentist began to take a turn.

I started to get cavities. At that point in my life, I only brushed my teeth once a day; I didn’t have a healthy diet, and I had a mild case of “dry mouth” from a medication that I was on at the time. Over the years, I had no fewer than ten fillings and trips to the dentist never became any easier.

In recent years, I haven’t gotten any cavities. Nowadays, I take awesome care of my teeth. I brush and floss my teeth after meals, I mostly drink water (fine and a lot of unsweetened coffee), and I have cut out a lot of the added sugars from my diet. However, at my last check up, I received some unpleasant news.

“Pretty…If You Squint” Season 1, Episode 3: Look Mom, I’m a Model

“There’s a problem with the filling on your tooth. It wasn’t done correctly.” My dentist went on to explain that there is likely decay under the filling. “You might need a root canal.”

I was disturbed by the news but, honestly, I was not surprised. For years, I have been hearing about this particular tooth from my dentists. Different dentists have told me that there was a problem with the filling and that they would need to put a “watch” on the tooth. Even I, a layperson, can see that there is a little gray mark at the edge of the filling that does not look healthy.

Today, I am sitting in the dentist chair and my brain is on fire even though the dentist hasn’t come into the room yet. This is a very important dentist appointment for me. Today, they are going to remove the filling and check to see the state of decay. If the decay is too deep, I’m going to need a root canal, which by the way is when a dentist removes the decay and pulp from your tooth and then seals it. Root canals can leave you dreadfully sore post-procedure, and they can be expensive without dental insurance (which I lack — major ugh! More here). So, I am not rooting for a root canal (ha).

The dentist began to administer local anesthesia (which numbs a small region) along my gum. She seemed impatient to get started and honestly, I was not feeling super numb by the time she started drilling. The assistant told me to raise my hand if I experienced any pain. Not five seconds into the drilling –I promptly did. The dentist stopped drilling and administered a bit more of the local anesthesia, begrudgingly waiting for the substance to take effect. She began to drill again, and I raised my left hand once more. The dentist and her assistant gave each other a puzzled look. “I hardly did anything,” said the dentist.

She inspected my tooth and found that it was fractured.

“My tooth is broken?”

“Not broken — you have a microfracture on your tooth that is why you are experiencing more pain. Don’t worry, this is something that you can live with as long as you are not experiencing any pain after the filling.”

This new information did not sit well with me.

“Did this happen because I grind my teeth?”

“Do you wear a night guard?”

“Yes, I do but I broke it… grinding my teeth.”

I was informed that I could be fitted for a new night guard today (it wasn’t cheap, sigh).

After some more local anesthesia, replacing the filling was a pretty quick and (surprisingly) mostly painless process. She shaved down the filling and my bite returned to (almost) normal.

Everything seemed to have gone alright, right? Unfortunately, I am not out of the woods yet. I have “watches” on a few other teeth and one other improperly done filling (I’m not about to sue my pediatric dentist, but like WTF!?), which is to say, I may have similar visits, and maybe even an actual root canal in my future — gulp.

So, dear Reader, please do brush (and floss!) your teeth well and often, because it is far better (and more cost effective) if you take care of your teeth rather than have a dentist take care of them for you.



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