The Root of Evil - Part One

There's nothing like a dental emergency to really make you appreciate a skilled dentist. In particular, my dentist Dr. John Scanlon of Boylston Dental gives new meaning to the term artisan.

I am partial to Dr. Scanlon as I've been a patient for a few years and remained one in good standing because I just kept coming back for regularly scheduled cleanings. Mind you, I wasn't a flosser--but more on that later.

I stopped in for a quick look-see under the hood while on vacation last week because my post/crown was feeling a little loose again and wanted him to verify that it wasn't just my imagination. Having a tooth (even a fake tooth) slip out of your jaw while eating is an awful sensation. It is not one that you ever want to replicate if you can help it. In fact, this past May found Dr. Scanlon re-applying cement onto my post hoping that this time it would stick in my head just a little longer than last time.

You can see where this tale is going, can't you? The "talk" was inevitable and I was left with the decision to either have a dental implant or a permanent bridge to help keep my teeth in my head. Both options are fabulously expensive. As my Delta Dental insurance will cover $1000.00 for the bridge and nothing for the implant - the decision was an easy one. Living with my decision was harder because it meant a postponement for my trip to
Las Vegas to visit M & M World in November. (Yes, candy is no longer my best friend. I get it.)

Because the problematic tooth still had the root in my jaw (post root-canal), I had to have oral surgery to remove the root. After a month of healing, I would then be fitted for a permanent bridge which would give me super strength and more importantly--durability. I woud be able to chomp a steak or crack a walnut all in one hearty bite without every worrying that my fake tooth would fall out. So Dr. Scanlon sent me off to an oral surgeon last Tuesday for the dreaded extraction with the promise that I wouldn't feel a thing because I could have anesthesia.

My sister-in-law agreed to be my designated driver and brought me to the oral surgeon's office promptly for 8:30am. From the moment I passed through reception, I knew that I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

Let me tell you about that first room. It completely resembled what I would imagine an alien spaceship would look like if they were to perform cavity checks and probing. The walls were stained a depressing murky mauve and positioned right next to my chair was a two-level stainless steel cart chocked full of very scary looking dental instruments.

After checking in and being processed to the first room, I was prepped for surgery which involved a temperature and blood pressure check. The nurse was impressed with my excellent blood pressure considering I was about to go into surgery. I was thinking to myself, "What do I have to stress out about? I'm being put to sleep.” However, the Cadillac treatment of snoozy fumes wasn't for me due to a snag with a potential pre-existing medical condition so I was shot full of Novocain instead. Grrreat....

I was then moved to the operating room where I got to meet the oral surgeon for the first time. ( I actually had already gotten a sneak peak of his ugly mug because hanging in the room was this 8x10 mocked-up photograph of him featured on the front cover of one of those fake Golfer magazines that anyone can have made up at Six Flags. I took an instant dislike to him for having the vanity to actually hang that in his operating room thinking somehow that it was clever next to his diploma from some unknown New York dental university alongside his induction into the National Dental Honor Society.)

After the drama of determining he could not actually put me to sleep, I decided to just go for it having the affected area of my jaw shot full of gobs of Novocain. I silently dared the assistant to re-check my blood pressure. C'mon. Go for it. I bet it's off the charts now!! The Hack told me this extraction would be just like having a cavity filled--NO BIG DEAL. Word of Adviced: Never trust anyone comparing a root extraction to having a cavity filled. If they tell you that then they are lying through their teeth (pun intended).

The Hack hooked his meaty gloved index finger into my mouth like a vet would a dog to examine my temporary bridge. He wasn't too happy that it was still on and made a fuss about having to remove it. He began tugging and yanking down on the bridge to get it to pop off, but after much groaning and bugged-out eyes he decided it was at this point that maybe he should start thinking about applying Novacain.

Small talk ensued as he was applying the needles. "So what do you do for a living?" I joked back, "Well, I'm an inventory analyst at Staples Corporate. We're in the middle of Back to School so right now I'm making sure that all the children across America have plenty of staplers and staples for school." ha ha ha ~ he didn't even laugh nor did he crack a smile. After my gums were numbed up, he returned to the room to begin the extraction. During the procedure, he actually said to me, "Kim, we'll get you all set and you'll be able to get back to your classes tomorrow."


Then it hit me. He wasn't even paying attention to a thing I said. He just heard 'Back to School' and assumed I was a student. Unbelievable. I hate it when people don't pay attention to their own small talk.

The sensation of having The Hack remove my tooth's root is indescribable, but I will try to tell you nonetheless. First, it was awful. During the times when he had to use his hammer and chisel tools, I just wanted to leap up from the chair. My face felt like a boulder that was being honed into the sculpture of a dead president. Tap, Tap, Crunch!! It didn't necessarily hurt, but the sensation of feeling a creaking in your head as the root is yanked away from the jaw bone is torture at its best. I should have been in snoozy land. It didn't matter that I wasn't feeling any immediate pain. In retrospect, pain would have been preferable because at least I could match the inner sensation of creaking in my jaw bone to an actual result.

When it was all over, the hack stitched up my gums with dissolvable sutures and proceeded to try to put the temporary bridge back on over his handy-dandy work. He warned me that the cement he was using was 'archaic' and that I might have to go back to my dentist if the bridge came undone. He re-attached it and gave me thick wads of gauze to bite down hard on to let the cement harden. As I did so, I heard this cracking sound. Being an expert on cracking sounds, I alerted him that I thought my bridge had broken. Annoyed, he fish-hooked his thumb back under my tender partially swollen cheek and proceeded to tell me it was nothing-merely the cement settling around my teeth. He didn't even shine his light on me.

I was given a prescription for Vicodin and instructions to use a cold pack on my cheek every 30 minutes to help with the swelling. He once again commented about how I'd be back to class in no time and hastily left the operating room calling out that if I had any questions not to hesitate to call Dr. Scanlon. Nice. Don't call me; call your dentist because after all I only tore open your mouth.

I returned home filled with 4-hour intervals of Vicodin and severe soreness. Later in the day, I tentatively ran my tongue up and around his dirty work only to discover that all the stitches were sticking out all over my gum line. I found a little flashlight and opened my mouth as wide as I could stand it to see just how bad it all looked up there.

I thought it looked pretty good all things considered. But what did I know? Regretfully, there was still more fun to come.

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