Poor dental decisions

Last April when I was traveling in Indianapolis, I had this hard bite into a piece of bread and went through hell the same night as my tooth cracked. Ultimately I had to have an emergency root canal done by a specialist dentist. The specialist had recommended that I get a crown and my dentist could take care of it. My dentist finished up the root canal and said I still had a lot of teeth and said I could get another evaluation done when I go back in for my routine cleaning in September. I was relieved that I didn’t have to look at spending another $1500 worth of work – my part after insurance would still have been significant. Two months after the root canal, the teeth was doing great and I was impressed by the quality of work done by the specialist – it was swift, painless and matter of fact, to the point; a no-nonsense sort of affair of tooth treatment! Last week as I bit into a piece of soft pizza, I felt a piercing into my gum around the same tooth, sort of like the staple pin that gets dropped onto food and would make into your mouth. A few minutes later, a small test bit confirmed the same and I stopped eating on that side. I went in to my dentist after I was back home and he said he couldn’t make a decision whether or not to extract the teeth or to put a crown. He did confirm it was the same teeth. I got an appointment yesterday.

The young dentist who I was supposed to see is a quite experienced, well-known one in the practice. I was glad I was seeing him. He said he might have to extract the tooth. I reminded him of the other dentist’s observation that a crown was still a possibility. Five minutes into keeping my mouth open, he pulled out the part of the tooth that was cracked and said it wasn’t salvageable. He had administered local anesthesia and in doing so, I had felt sort of electric shock in my lips. I was surprised as the instrument he was using wasn’t connected by wire. He said it was the nerve endings that he had touched and that was a good sign as he had administered the anesthesia in the right spot(s). He then tried to extract the tooth in its entirety. I felt a lot of pressure on my jaw. After five more minutes, he said it would be easier to cut the teeth into two and pull the pieces out separately and it would take five more minutes than fifteen. I was feeling extraction of the teeth more intense than a root canal. The amount of pressure on my lower jaw was uncomfortable, though I didn’t feel any pain. Finally he had the tooth extracted. He mentioned that it would be best for me to have bone drafted so it would ease the implant procedure later on. He sutured a few stitches, sucked out the remnants from my mouth, stuffed gauze and asked me to bite tight. The tighter I bit, the faster the bleeding would stop. As he walked me out, he went over the post-surgical tooth removal instructions and asked me ‘Do you have any questions?’. I felt amused with my teeth tightly clenching the gauze in place.

A safe crown done right after root canal would have kept my original teeth in place and also saved a lot more time and money. A tooth implant is about $3000. And it takes two visits so if you spread the visits across two years, say first visit in September and the second in February, then you can spread your spending across two years and plan for FSA to cover some of it.

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