Monday, April 21, 2008

Root Canal Up Close and Personal

Remember I mentioned Tom's Tooth pain last week? Naturally Saturday night he thought he was going to die despite plenty of Motrin. Eventually he added Vicodin to the mix. His dentist was away for the weekend of course as luck would have it. Fortunately for us, he is one of the few dentists that will come in after hours if there is an emergency. Do you know that in this county if your dentist doesn't come in for you for emergencies there is nothing that anyone can do for you. I called the ER and they told me they would have just prescribed Vicodin. So if the pain meds don't work you suffer. The second Vicodin helped him escape his tortuous pain. Finally his dentist called Sunday around 6pm. He was back and would meet us at the office. So I took him down and got a ring side seat of the whole process. I wish I had a pair of magnifying glasses because I couldn't see as well as I would have liked and I forgot my reading glasses. But I had no trouble seeing the instruments and it was amazing how long the needle was that he use to ream out the root canals. He attached them to the drill and zzzzzzzzzzzz.....

After he pulverized whatever was left in the canal, he grasped with his hand, a long flexible needle (see below) that looked like an extremely thin file.

Obviously these files are NOT to scale!

He used these files to clean out any debris from the canals by poking it in and out of the holes. The file type edge gives the debris a place to stick to so you can remove it. I asked the dentist how he could even see the canals since they were filled with blood and he said after so many years you just know, but when he first became a dentist he was very slow and deliberate and nervous. So now that I know EXACTLY what happens, I will be under no illusions should I be in the unlucky position of having a root canal. I will be able to see what he is doing perfectly clearly in my mind's eye. I'm not sure that's a good thing. Seriously though, it was very interesting. And I learned that the pain is a result of inflammation and trapped gases so that taking an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofin is a good idea along with a pain medication such as Vicodin. Now was that more than you ever wanted to know about root canals? Are you lucky enough to have a dentist that will come in after hours?