September 2nd, 2008


Fillings last but 30 years

Monday morning I was eating a bowl of fairly mushy cereal when without warning I bit down on something very hard. Extracting it from my mouth, I felt a wave of nausea when I realized it was a fairly large part of one of my teeth. My far lower left molar (tooth #18 in the dental numbering system) was, my tongue soon discovered, mostly missing, with the missing part extending below the gum line.

I assumed no root was exposed because the pain wasn't intolerable and sharp, but it was terribly sensitive to both hot and cold, and throbbed more or less all the time. I had a pretty nice time at the Labor Day party we hosted, but was actually quite subdued because of this.

Happily, I managed to snag a quick appointment at my dentist late this afternoon. I like my (new) dentist because he's young, confident, aggressive, and (apparently) has some relatively modern techniques in his arsenal. In no time he had applied some vaguely rubber-cement-smelling compound to the area, the resulting mass being much less than the missing tooth material but at least the sensitive and vulnerable areas are fairly well covered up for the nonce. An X-ray was taken and a further appointment made for next week, wherein he'll (unpleasantly no doubt) grind down the rest of the tooth into part of a post to mount a crown on, build up area where tooth and old filling are missing into the rest of the post, and make a mold for the gold crown.

The best news of all here is that he said a root canal probably won't be necessary. With so much of the tooth gone, that most painful and arduous of all dental procedures is what I had feared. When I told him this, he said with a wink "well, we can do a root canal, if you really want one." This is another reason I like my new dentist.

When I asked why I rather catastrophically lost one filling last year, and another just now (tooth and all), when I'd had little trouble with them, he just said well, these old amalgam fillings really only last about thirty years. Which sucks, because that tells me they're ALL going to start going now.

When I left the dentist's office it was already after 3:30, so it seemed pointless to try to return to work. Instead I found Ross and Warner at Ross's tavern, and finished my day's work email over a couple of cold drinks.