The Agony of the Teeth

The Agony of the Teeth

For those of you who are sick of hearing me talk about my stupid root canal, this post is not for you. In fact, I am almost sick of hearing myself talk about it. But I can’t stop thinking about the experience and therefore I simply can’t move to the next topic until I deal with this one.

A number of years ago I had a tooth that changed color and was causing me some pain. That dentist said there did not appear to be anything wrong, but if it didn’t go away in 3-5 days, to come back. The pain went away, so I thought nothing of it. Fast forward a few years. That same tooth started acting up again and I used the same logic of I’ll wait 5 days and see if it goes away. Plus I had an appointment for a cleaning coming up and figured I would just ask about it then.  After 5 days it still hurt, and after 7 days, then 10 (yes, I know I’m an idiot, but let’s just call it optimism). By Day 10 I realize this is not getting better, but it was Friday night so I figured I would call them on Monday to deal with it. That Friday wound up being a very, VERY long night.  Prior to this night, I could take some Tylenol and go to bed and maybe wake up in the middle of the night when it wore off, but take more Tylenol and go back to sleep. I took 2 Tylenol. Nothing. Took 2 Advil an hour later. Nothing. I could not sleep because I was so distracted by the rhythmic throbbing of my tooth. So, I went to the source of all knowledge – the internet (seriously, how did we live before Google??).  There are a LOT of interesting home remedies for toothaches out there – clove oil, peppermint oil, tea bags, vanilla extract, whiskey (whee!), hold a towel  with vinegar to the outside of your mouth (??), gargle salt water, and soak a small cotton pad in fresh onion juice and apply it to the aching tooth (I don’t think so).  In my desperation, I tried painting my teeth with vanilla extract, which did nothing for the pain, but I did have nice breath.  I chewed on a tea bag to no avail, and lost my vanilla fresh breath. I also learned that many of my fellow sufferers experienced more pain at night and that you have to sleep sitting up (which was later confirmed by the dentist). Countless people posted their remedies in the wee hours of the night and I have to say it was some comfort to know I was not alone in my late night suffering. I was also absolutely heart broken by the number of people who suffered because they had no dental insurance and could not afford to seek help anywhere else.

On Saturday morning I called the dentist and he predicted root canal and agreed to fit me in on Tuesday morning before my flight to Hawaii.  He also called in a prescription for antibiotics and Vicodin. The Vicodin certainly did kill the pain, but not in any kind of “fun” way. It’s hard for me to imagine that people get hooked on this stuff. Basically, it put me in a coma and I was either dead asleep or extremely groggy. This is a fine state for avoiding the pain of a hideous toothache, but not much good for anything else.

The root canal procedure was uneventful and painless. I would like to say the rest of my trip to Hawaii was as painless, but the “discomfort” my dentist mentioned would occur, was as painful, if not more, than pre root canal and I was chewing Advil like candy the entire trip. I finally started feeling like a normal human again on Sunday – the day we left to come home…

How have you coped with your own dark journeys in the night with pain?

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2 Comments on “The Agony of the Teeth”

  1. Gail says:

    Lyda,
    We have been so distracted that we haven’t called and just assumed you were having a marvelous vacation. Oh my, oh my. Pain-in-the-night is awful…only thing worse, perhaps, is pain-in-the-night of someone you love and can’t do anything for. Next time don’t be such a stoic and go for professional help….sooner!

  2. […] talking about this particular tooth with various dental professionals. A lot has happened since The Agony of the Teeth and if you go back an re-read the post there is a little clue that all was not well in my final […]


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