I had my first root canal today. My first experience with an endodontist. The first time I've needed work done on my teeth since I graduated college *umpteen* years ago. Okay... I did have two silver fillings removed last year and replaced with the ceramics ones, but that doesn't really count. That was elective. This surely wasn't.
When I had one of my fillings replaced last January, the dentist warned me that there was a chance I might have to have a root canal as the surface area she had to remove and fill was quite large. Though at the time all I heard was "wah wah ... wah wah ... future root canal ... wah wah ....", and saw the $80 price tag to change out the fillings. Inspite the costs being unbelievably low, the dental care really is top notch here.
For over a year my tooth seemed just fine. Until recently when it started bothering me a little when I drank cold drinks. So I waited to see if the pain would subside. Which it did for a few weeks ... and then started bothering me when I ate soup or drank my hot cappuccinos. And then it started bothering me whenever I ate... which is pretty much all the time.
I made an appointment for the Saturday that Matt left for D.C. (and left him with the 3 kids for a few hours while I went to the dentist and shopping... my little send off gift to him). The dentist did a few "tests", took an x-ray, and confirmed that the tooth needed a root canal. Oh. What. Fun.
So I went in today, armed and ready with my fairly high pain threshold and my iPod to block out the sounds. The shot of Novocaine seemed rather quick, but I instantly knew that my lips and tongue weren't getting as numb as they should have. Only when I attempt to rinse my mouth with water and can't feel my lips or the water pouring down my chin (a la Bill Cosby's stand up comedy routine from the early 80s), do I know I'm sufficiently numb. And I was right. The first minute or two of drilling didn't bother me, but as he started getting into it and bearing his weight down on my tooth did I start to wiggle... to squirm... to finally raise my arm and call, "Uncle!"
So I got another shot of Novocaine. Five minutes later we were ready to proceed, and all seemed to be fine ... until I started smelling the burning of my tooth. And then I got queasy. No matter how loud Coldplay, Simon & Garfunkel, or Miley Cyrus played (gotta love the shuffle selection on the iPod), my heart was pounding hard and I knew it was mere minutes before I was going to pass out. Of course, I attempted to tell the doctor that I needed a minute at the very same time he was telling me he only needed 10 seconds to finish up. See... he was just about to pull out the pulp. The part that had me seeing the entire milky way galaxy. Game over.
I started hyperventilating in the chair, and asked him to lean me back immediately. My face was flushed. I needed to control my breathing. I needed to calm down. He gave me about five minutes to lay there and relax. I needed six. Maybe seven.
We continued the process. Him drilling, cleaning, pressing, and suctioning. Me listening to Taylor Swift, Black Eyed Peas, Billy Joel, and Jack Johnson (don't laugh - you too would totally remember what you were listening if you were trying so hard to block everything else out so you didn't hurl...). Soon enough he was done, and minutes later took a quick x-ray to see if all looked well enough to fill my tooth. Aside from the delays, the process was quick and easy. Once the x-ray was sent from one room to the other (did I mention the technology here is a-may-zing?), the doctor determined he could finish filling my tooth. More yukky smells of burning, a slight bit of discomfort when he pushed into my tooth, and ten minutes later I was out the door.
Less than an hour of work from start to finish. And with today's exchange rate cost me ... only $136!! Even better, if I send it to my insurance provider, I'll probably get a majority of the money reimbursed.
Five hours post procedure and so far no pain. For that price maybe I should have a few more done before I leave. Though next time I'm totally taking a Valium. No I'm not kidding. About either...