Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Turns out that the discomforting taste in my mouth is blood.

     Yeah, I know. That's either a gripping title, or an "eek, I don't think I want to read this" title. I guess I'll find out.
     This is a follow up to my very first blog post "Comfort Dental leaves a discomforting taste in my mouth." I promised a follow-up and here it is. I'm sure that my three regular readers have been on the edge of their seats waiting for the exciting conclusion to my dental woes. Yeah, I know, it says I only have one follower (yay for my one follower!), but I think I have a couple more regular readers that just haven't clicked follow.
     So, we last left off this harrowing tale of my brave little tooth with me wanting to get the root canal done at Boulder Dental Center (BDC) rather than Comfort Dental (CD). BDC's quote was double what CD's was. I emailed BDC, explained my financial situation, and told them that I really wanted to have the services performed at their practice. They lowered the price by $500, but it was still higher than CD's price.
     I was able to obtain funding through an organization for half the root canal at CD, and worked out paying for the other half. I really didn't want to continue going to CD, but I didn't have a choice, and I was grateful that I was getting help at all. I scheduled the root canal for last Thursday. Little did I know what was to come.
     The dentist came in, looked at my tooth, and the first thing he said was, "Oh, I didn't know this was a retreat." (Meaning it was a tooth that had previously had a root canal and needed to be redone.) The hygienist asked him if he did retreats, and he said, "Not often."
     He then left, telling me he'd be right back. He was gone for almost twenty minutes. I was starting to get worried that they weren't going to be able to do it. I really wanted to get it taken care of and over with. While he was gone, I imagined him sitting in the back room watching instructional videos on YouTube about how to do a retreat.
     He finally came back and explained that he has done lots of root canals and some retreats. He told me my tooth looked complex because he couldn't tell why the root canal had failed. He explained that if he could immediately see what was wrong with it, he would feel more confident, but that he couldn't actually see why it had failed. He confessed that he was fairly confident he could do it, but not 100% confident. I really appreciated his honesty, and told him so. 
     He said I could see a specialist, who might know better what needed to be done. He explained that the fees would be higher, and since many specialists don't accept Medicaid, I wouldn't get the Medicaid discounted price. I mentioned that I would soon be having surgery on my ankle (yep, more on that in another post) and asked if having an infection in my mouth would be dangerous going into surgery. He said it could definitely be a problem. After thinking about it,  I told him to go ahead and give it a shot. 
     After the novocaine kicked in, the dentist tapped around on my tooth and stopped. He sat the chair up and said we needed to talk. He explained that my tooth or crown (I'm not sure) had a crack in it, and that he didn't believe it was viable for a root canal, meaning the tooth couldn't be saved. He recommended extraction. He explained my options after extraction, which were implants and bridges. He didn't think that the area would be a good candidate for a bridge since the tooth next to it had had a root canal. He quoted me roughly $2000 for the implant. 
     As he was telling me all this, I started to laugh. Yep. Why? Because life isn't going well for me right now. It's not horrible. It could always be worse. There are good things in my life. My boyfriend is awesome, I have a roof over my head, supportive family members and friends, a kitty, and I'm enjoying working on my novels. But still, in other avenues, things aren't looking so hot. I've been out of work since October, when I first had ankle surgery. I was expected to be fully recovered and returning to work right about now. Instead, my ankle's taken a turn for the worse and I'm looking at a second surgery which means at least four or five more months of unemployment. And now I have to deal with this stupid tooth. 
     So I started laughing. The dentist was politely not looking at me like I was crazy. I explained that I was laughing because if I didn't laugh, I'd cry. Then, I almost cried. Almost. I was on the verge. But I thought, no way am I going to sit here at Comfort Dental and start crying. I knew if I started to cry, I wouldn't stop. 
     I decided it would be best to get a second opinion before extracting the tooth. I got a refund and left. 
I was feeling mildly confident that Boulder Dental Center would be able to perform the root canal. I knew they had a specialist there, which CD doesn't have. After some panic and talking to my boyfriend, I decided I would be able to find a way to pay the higher fee at BDC. 
     I called BDC and explained what had happened at Comfort Dental. After talking to the dentist, the receptionist told me he was 50-60% confident he could do the procedure.  I decided that was enough to give it a shot. Lucky for me, they were able to fit me in right away. So, less than two hours later I found myself sitting in a other dentist chair at another dental office, having novocaine shot into my mouth. It was an awesome morning. 
     The dentist started drilling and it began to hurt pretty bad, despite the fact that I was numb. All of a sudden, I heard the dentist make a noise that sounded like "shoot." I felt an intense pulling sensation. The assistant pulled out the air hose and there was blood all over it. Just so everyone knows, these are not things you want to see and hear while at the dentist. 
     They turned off all the equipment and sat the chair back up. The dentist explained that the crown cracked and came off. He was surprised about this because it hadn't seemed loose when he'd examined me a few weeks before. He explained that he could still try and save the tooth, but that the procedure would require a lot more appointments and a lot more work. He informed me that even if he did all of that, his confidence that the root canal would hold/be effective for any significant period of time was about 20-30%. After I pressured him a little, he recommended extraction of the tooth. I told him I needed ankle surgery in a couple of weeks, and he said I definitely did not want to go into that with an infection. Once again I was listening to a dentist explain bridges and implants. Neither of which I have the money for. 
     At this point, I realized that extraction was probably necessary, and that I needed to get the immediate problem resolved. If I left the tooth in, I would be at risk for serious complications from an infection. Suddenly, I had this incredibly liberating moment where I decided that my health was more important than looks (which it is, but that doesn't mean I'm happy).  I decided to extract the tooth and worry about paying for an implant or bridge at some point in the future. The distant future. 
     So, the tooth was extracted. If anyone's ever had this done, you know it is extremely painful. Seriously, seriously painful. Really freaking painful. Five days later, it still hurts. Of course, I'm also dealing with my ankle, so my body isn't exactly in the best shape for healing right now. 
     Yep. I've got a hole in my mouth. I'm trying not to be too self-conscious about it, but I am. My moment of liberation where I felt that looks didn't matter is gone. I'm totally upset about the hole in my mouth. I'm trying not to be. It's not right up front, so it's not super noticeable. But I know it's there. Or, isn't there. Bye-bye tooth. You were a brave little soldier. I'm sorry I drank so much soda when I was younger. 
     My plan at this point is to deal with my ankle, then look into finding the money to pay for an implant or bridge or something or other. I'm trying to be positive. At least the immediate problem is solved and the infection is gone. That day is going on my top 25 list of worst days ever.