I learned rather quickly that this particular dentist has a fancy digital robotic x-ray machine that can practically see cavities before they form. Naturally, they discovered I had NINE cavities. Three of them were super-scary looking jerks that needed to be eliminated and filled immediately. The others could be spread out throughout the summer. I made the appointments and spent the rest of that day sulking in bed.
Well, I sucked it up and had managed to get six cavities filled without any issue. The first were the scary jerks, and I had mad TMJ-related pain for a week, but the next three were a breeze.
My last appointment was yesterday. There is a bottle of Advil in front of me and a piece of half-eaten toast that I've found too painful to finish. I can't bite down too hard and so I eat about as slow as my grandmother, who I've seen take about 45 minutes to consume a slice of pumpkin pie before.
Here's how it went down:
So I'm at the dentist. The assistant comes in and does something a little weird. She applies a topical anesthetic to my bottom gum line. This hasn't happened in the six previous fillings, but I don't find cause to be alarmed just yet.
I have major anxiety when it comes to any kind of clinical environment, but with this being my seventh, eighth, and ninth filling in the last two months, I'd managed to calm my nerves just enough to not develop clammy palms during the procedure. Which is big, for me. So at this point, I'm telling myself, don't worry, it'll be a breeze, (even though you had two nightmares about it last night but whatever-- it will be over soon).
Then this happens:
Anxiety sets in immediately. My internal interrogation begins:
Why do we need to try a new method? The normal one works just fine. I was seriously impressed with this dentist's ability to inject me with enough anesthetic the last six times, as I have a history of anesthetic not working for me. And now this? Why didn't he ask me? Why only that tooth? WTF IS HAPPENING?!
Clammy hands commence.
Clammy hands commence.
He examines my teeth and finds that the third cavity isn't a cavity at all and so he's only going to do two fillings today. Yay. My lower tooth will be the home of the newfangled anesthetic method; and the top will feature the normal sort.
So he begins.
THAT'S why the assistant applied a topical anesthetic to my lower gums. To prepare them for what felt and looked like this.
The topical anesthetic helped somewhat. I still totally felt the initial injection. It went really super deep. And it hurt. He sat there, probing my gums with this torture device, explaining that with this method, only the one tooth would get numb, instead of the whole right side of my face.
Which still doesn't make sense to me. Doesn't pain travel? Isn't there a reason that whole right sides of faces are numbed?
So he pumps the gum yet again, and this time when he tests I'm numb enough and then he gets a-drilling.
So I feel pain, not only on that lower tooth but it spreads throughout the lower jaw. It's fairly dull, however, and I can take it for a little while. Which I attempt because at that point, I didn't know what was worse: feeling the pain of them drilling me or him injecting me with the torture device that was supposed to stop me from feeling the filling in the first place.
Plus, for like, five minutes he kept insisting the end was nigh:
And basically when I can't take it anymore, it's over.
So they fill my teeth with composite filling. Or something, I'm not up to date on my dentistry terms. Jordan and I drive from there to the grocery store, and on the way there it feels as though all the anesthetic wears off immediately.
The pain was so intense the only thing I can compare it to is wisdom teeth extraction.
It hurt too much to smile, talk, and even walking sent throbs of pain all over the area. As far as I could tell, the pain was localized at the injection site of the torture device.
I walked around the store completely expressionless while holding the right side of my face, occasionally wincing then groaning from the pain the wincing caused. I'm sure I looked like I was having drug withdrawals or something.
The top filling, the one that they used traditional anesthetic on, felt fine, by the way. As predicted.
As soon as we got home, I took Advil and ate my lunch: rice pudding. It felt better after a few hours but still hurt to bite down.
And that's basically where I am today. It hurts to bite down, this time it's at the spot they drilled on the tooth. It hurts to touch my entire cheek-- from the top of my cheekbone down to the jawline. Also, I can't really open my mouth, but that's certainly a TMJ thing.
I'm sure it needs time to heal from the various injuries, but damn. I can't help but feel that 90% of this pain was entirely preventable, were I not randomly chosen for some sort of anesthesia experiment.
I haven't told the dentist of the results of his newfangled method yet. He called to check on me last night, but I didn't hear my phone. I'm thinking about emailing him a link to this with the subject line: Whatever you did to my gums yesterday, please for the love of humanity don't ever do to anyone ever again EVER.