Anyway, I actually went in before my appointment in April because one tooth was hurting and I was having trouble sleeping. The dentist did x-rays, poked around, and ultimately told me that the tooth looked fine, and he thought I had a sinus infection or just that my allergies were really bad, which apparently can sometimes cause tooth pain. My allergies felt better in the next few days, and so did my tooth. Awesome.
In April, I saw a different dentist in the practice for a cleaning. By then, the tooth was hurting a little bit again, I told the dentist, and he did a cold test- he started in the back, touching each tooth with something ice cold, working his way to the left incisor. OUCH. OUCH. OUCH. OUCH. Nothing. Apparently, the "nothing" tooth was dead, and needed a root canal. Several weeks after the cleaning appointment, I took a sip of water, and suddenly had half of a tooth in my mouth. Not, the dead tooth, another tooth. After talking about options, they (and I) decided to pull the tooth, and I dealt with a fun extraction over Mother's Day weekend.
A week or so after Mother's Day was also when I had the root canal scheduled. The dentist drilled a bit, and I could pretty quickly tell by the noises that he was making that it wasn't going well. He eventually stopped, and told me that he was having trouble accessing the canal, and that he was going to send me to a specialist, someone who had more experience with calcified canals.
A few weeks later, I was back in the dental chair, this time with a specialist. He drilled. He took x-rays. He drilled some more. Took some more x-rays. We repeated this process for about two and a half hours before he said, "I've never seen anything like this. Your tooth is completely calcified. It looks like a 95 year old woman's tooth. I've drilled all the way up and I can't find a canal anywhere, I can't do a root canal on you."
Maybe two weeks later, I suddenly had severe pain...yep....right where the failed root canal tooth was. I took ibuprofen. I rinsed my sinuses. I took vicodin. I tried garlic, and every other home remedy known to man, and none of them worked. I didn't sleep (because of the pain) for 48 hours before my appointment back at the dentist.
By this point, I knew what was coming and I didn't even care. They were going to pull one of my front teeth. Oh, and as a bonus, it was infected, meaning a hefty dose of penicillin for me, and decreased birth control pill effectiveness as a bonus! Ha. Anyway, the only question from there was whether they were going to do a bridge, implant, or something else. They said I wasn't a good category for a bridge, and recommended an implant, but implants aren't covered by our insurance, and require a $4,000 payment up front...not something I was prepared to fork over that morning. The dentist said that it didn't really matter, even if I did decide to do an implant, I'd have to wear a flipper (a retainer with a tooth attached) for awhile and possibly have a bone graft before the implant. So, he made a flipper, and said that we could decide more later.
Only, when I say "he made a flipper", what I really mean was "he made a mold for a flipper", and then as I later found out, "the guy who works at the lab they sent them to was on vacation". So, I was toothless from Friday morning until Wednesday the following week. It was awesome. I felt like a pirate.
So anyway, today I finally got to go in for the flipper retainer. This dental office has lost my complete file, and I've also showed up with appointment card in hand only for them to have no idea why I'm there. So I kept having panic attacks that I would get there and they wouldn't have the flipper for me.
I arrive. I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally, I get called back and the hygenist happily says, "So, what are you here for today?"
"For my flipper!" I respond happily.
Her eyes get wide. She says, "I'll be right back," and walks out of the room. I see her grab another hygienist and say, "HELP ME. There is no flipper here for her."
I know where this is going. Crap. CRAP. CRAP. CRAP. I text swear words to Justin.
They shuffle around for a little while, and then eventually find the flipper. The hygenist pops it in, and says she needs to make an adjustment. She does, and then pops the flipper back in my mouth...AND IT WILL NOT STAY IN. It was *amazing*.
I text more swear words to Justin. And tell him that I want to cry. I was so irritated.
The dentist comes in and tells me that they are going to put something called re-line on the retainer so that I can leave with it today, but that this re-line stuff is temporary, and that eventually I will have to come back and have it sent to the lab, where they will make the re-line stuff permanent. If I want, I can order a second flipper out of pocket while this one is gone, and just to have a backup. For $600. Otherwise, I'll just be toothless again while it's at the lab. Oh, and I might be able to eat with the flipper in place, but I also might not.
I was on the verge of tears, and also really irritated. I HAVE WAITED SIX DAYS, I WANT A TOOTH, DARNIT!!! By the way, I just realized that I'm mixing tenses like crazy here, which really irritates me, but if I try to go back to fix it, this post will never get published. So, I'm sorry. Anyway, I about sobbed right there in the dentist's chair. I just kept saying, "I DON'T. UNDERSTAND. WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED!"
Eventually, the dentist explained it to me. From my perspective, the hygienist messed up. But what really happened was that they took a mold of my mouth before they pulled the tooth. That helped them to shape the replacement tooth correctly, but what it didn't do was show my gumline once the tooth was pulled. They estimate, but in my case it wasn't a great estimation, and there was a gap between the fake tooth and the gum. The hygienist had made an adjustment--she sanded off a part of the retainer that was covering my back molars. It couldn't have stayed, but with the gap at the gumline, it was also the only thing holding the retainer in place. Basically, it was a mess, but at least I look human again.
(This pic is flipped, so it's the tooth just to the right of my two front teeth here,
and it actually matches the other side and color quite well.)
They were able to fix it temporarily, and I can (sort of) talk (with a lisp). I tried eating with it in, and that was ridiculous. Hopefully, it will get better as I get more used to having the darn flipper. If not, we are never eating out again. I go back in six weeks, once my gum has fully healed, and they'll do another mold and/or re-line of my mouth, and send it off for a new flipper. They have assured me that next time, it will be a same-day or overnight scenario.
So, I look normal again, which is a great start. But this is still a really long road ahead of me, whether I go the dental implant road or not. I'm bracing myself.
(See what I did there?!)