First Root Canal! Surprisingly not as terrible as expected…

Posted on 16.12.2011


 I’d been trying to set up an appointment with a prospective new dentist for the past two months. I really should have done it much sooner, but I just kept forgetting about it, or doing shit like NOT BEING IN THE COUNTRY. Because of this, my dentist is the last (and final?) doctor I’ve acquired since my move to Germany.

I got her number from a friend, who was totally excited to tell me about her. She told me that she was awesome, nice, and that she spoke English! The speaking English part wasn’t as important to me as being a good dentist, but it is certainly helpful, since words like ‘root canal’ aren’t a part of my daily speech. The word auf Deutsch is: Wurzelkanal. If you’re interested.

I’d scheduled an appointment with her for the week before my vacation started.  But then, I got sick. So I called and canceled it, and said I’d call back at a later date to reschedule. I didn’t call to reschedule until early this week, at which point I’d had a mild toothache for like 3 days. I attributed it (in my head) to eating too much junk food, and the typical ‘my tooth feels loose today, but it’ll be better tomorrow’ feeling that I sometimes get. No biggie. The appointment was set for next Thursday.

Then shit got real. I’m talking never-ending waves of almost unbearable pain. I’m pretty tolerant of pain… but when it comes to head and now tooth aches, if it keeps me from sleeping, we’ve got issues. I chose to self medicate at first, because we had some leftover codeine and high-dosage ibuprofen in the house, but it didn’t work so well and I was still in a pretty bad amount of pain.

So last night before my class, I went to the Apotheker right around the corner from my office. I explained to the guy at the desk that I was having some serious tooth pain, and that none of the stuff I’d been using was working. When he asked what I’d been using, I told him. His eyes popped out of his head and he told me that I was already taking really strong meds, and I shouldn’t have taken them in such high doses. I told him the only reason my doses were so high was because they didn’t seem to be working. He apologized and said he couldn’t sell me anything stronger than what I already had at home. So I bought some more ibuprofen in order to double my doses (800 mg seemed to finally have an effect today).

He gave me a bit of advice, though, before I left. He told me to just call the dentist and say that I was experiencing a LOT of excruciating pain, and that they’d probably take me in immediately. So that’s what I did today, and he was right! The secretary told me to come in as soon as possible. I went in right after my class, and was seen in 15 minutes.

I felt really bad and apologized profusely to the dentist, since this was our first meeting. She laughed and said that it was no problem. I got a new x-ray, had a consultation, and within 15 minutes I was in the chair and she told me that she’d have to do a root canal.

Wait, what?

This isn’t the normal way that one expects such things to happen. Usually with the word ‘root canal’, you’ve got a good two weeks to think about and imagine just how terrible it will be and to imagine how much pain you’re going to be in. There isn’t usually a buffer of 10 minutes to reconcile yourself to the fact that you’re about to have your teeth drilled, but that’s exactly what I got. And I think that was a good thing, since I’m really good at psyching myself out.

So I got my tooth drilled. There were apparently three canals to work on, and only one of them still had a functioning nerve. For all intents and purposes, my tooth was brain-dead and on life support. I imagine it’s just a corpse now, but it feels a lot better.

I have a feeling that I might have gotten majorly lucky. Either that, or the rest of the general population can’t handle any type of pain. My root canal was quite literally painless. It still doesn’t hurt. My mouth feels great. I don’t know if I should thank advances in technology or some great local anesthesia, but I’ve had fillings put in that hurt more. The root canal was nothing. I was in and out in under an hour and feeling no pain. All she said as I left was ‘see you again next week for our real first visit’ and ‘don’t eat anything for 20 minutes’.

Awesome. How have your root canals been? Did I seriously get lucky?

Posted in: life