Oral Excavations

By Shamus Posted Wednesday May 28, 2008

Filed under: Personal 54 comments

Last year I broke a tooth a few hours after coming home from surgery, an ordeal which I cataloged here. The remaining tooth was little more than a fragment, and to attempt repair it was to stretch the definition of tooth “filling”. This would be the third such reconstruction. Each time it’s attempted, that last remaining sliver of enamel is an increasingly small and precarious place upon which a filling must attain purchase.

Hey kids! It’s toothy! He bites!.
Since I was still weakened from the harvesting of my organs, I was in no shape to endure a lengthy proceedure to rebuild a tooth which was probably doomed to shatter yet again, if it didn’t simply die outright. My dentist proposed an alternative: He would seal the tooth up with a temporary filling, thus entombing the crucial innards in a nominally protective shell, but otherwise leaving off the nicer outer layer of whatever it is they use to make fillings the right shape and color. If the tooth survived for a couple of weeks, we could conclude that the last vestiges of tooth were still a suitable foundation on which to build. If not, well… at least I wouldn’t have wasted money and precious painful hours on the thing. His offer was something with which I was down.

The repair work was not attractive. It was the color of dirty concrete, a small malformed lump that hunched shamefully between its peers. But it was a back tooth – a molar in your fancy-pants Dentist parlance – and thus I never saw it. Which led to a serious bit of foolishness on my part.

My Dentist fell ill. (And, as I found out later, died. He was a nice enough fellow and already semi-retired. His office was often closed, but when he was working he had a battalion of doting assistants to make his paths straight.) His office contacted me to refer me to another dentist, but I assured them I’d handle it myself.

Which I didn’t.

Dr. Weeser’s ad-hoc repairs worked so well and went unseen for so long that I forgot that the tooth still required attention. I didn’t think of it again until it began hurting, at which point I realized I’d just spent half a year hammering away at the fragile temporary shell he’d given me.

I quickly secured a new dentist. He’s a strapping young man, which means I don’t have to worry about him passing on anytime soon. But it’s also bad because I can’t wrap my brain around the idea of having a doctor younger than I am. I resisted the urge to call him “sonny” or “kid”, but only because he was about to put power tools in my mouth. Yesterday I paid him a visit, and my oversight was at last rectified. About the proceedure I will make the following editorial comment:


After he blasted away the “temporary” covering, he looked at the bits, “I have no idea what this was made out of. It’s nothing I’ve ever used before.” I wanted to make a few suggestions, but my mouth was full of gauze and agony. I know he was working on one of my molars, but if I had to judge where the tooth was based on where his arms were and how far I had to open, I’d say the tooth in question was somewhere between my first and second ribs. I lost sight of him a few times during the process, but I could still hear the deep, far-off echoes of his drilling equipment as he ventured ever deeper into my skull. Sometimes a spray of enamel or Dr. Weeser’s Mystery Filling would fly outward, and he was forced to reassure me that he was not using a pickaxe in there.

When the proceedure was over – that is to say, several days later – he gave me the prognosis: The next time this tooth breaks – which is an inevitable event, he assures me – it will be time for a crown. I’ve never had that done before, but after he explained exactly what was involved it made me feel bad for being such a sissy about the fillings.

The sensation has finally returned to my face, although I notice I’m still lacking a bit of functionality. I can’t curl my lip and my smile is crooked. I know I’ve said before, but I think it bears repeating:



From The Archives:

54 thoughts on “Oral Excavations

  1. When I was 12, I broke both my top front teeth 1 week after taking my braces off (my parents cried a bit). I wore my ‘temporary filling’ from the Age of 12 to 17 (1st one) and 25 (2nd one)

    I now have the original 1st tooth (still alive) used as the pivot for my 1st crown and I had to have a root canal and a titanium rod to act as the pivot for the second one (after it broke)…

    … so yeah I get your pain… I never paid so much for someone to hurt me! Dentistry and Chiropractics are modern, socially acceptable torture… which happens to be either vital or at the very least, very helpful.

  2. Axcalibar says:

    You might consider an ivory socket tooth. The downside, of course is that they’re like $1000 a pop. From what I’ve heard, they’re better than real teeth.

  3. Primogenitor says:

    Today I’ve found out I’m going to have all four wisdom teeth pulled, mainly due to having too many fillings and too much decay to be worth doing much else.

  4. Sarah says:

    I don’t quite understand why it’s really necessary to rebuild the actual tooth at this point…I’m no dentist, but if there’s so little actual tooth left, why not simply just remove anything that might cause an infection and just let sleeping gums lie.

    …Or maybe that’s the real way to open the hellgate, allowing thousands of demons to pour through in a relentless surge of bile and horror.

    The world may never know.

  5. Allen says:

    I haven’t had a cavity or a broken tooth or anything like that. A couple teeth pulled(wisdom teeth, and a three-rooted bicuspid that refused to come the hell out), some crap with braces and a retainer, but never anything really reconstructive.

    Still, if you ask the right person, a crooked smile is somewhat dashing, I heard.

  6. JFargo says:

    Ouch. I wince in sympathy.

    Hope the pain goes away quickly, and your next procedure is a breeze.

  7. RobertB says:

    Hang tough, it’s no worse than a filling. Just don’t be shy about asking for more novacaine.

  8. Adam says:

    I’ve always said that dentistry is barbarism.

  9. Jeremiah says:

    I’ve had a couple fillings in my lifetime. More recently I had 3 wisdom teeth removed, but that really wasn’t too bad (yay for IV sedation).

    I’m probably going to need a crown at some point, though. Not looking forward to that.

    Also, what Adam said.

  10. RobertB says:

    And dentists really don’t want to pull teeth if they can help it, because…

    1) That tooth in a jar on your desk isn’t generating any more boat payments.

    2) They all start moving around, and that’s a Bad Thing.

  11. Deoxy says:

    I actually didn’t have adult teeth for a couple of my baby teeth, and that causes serious problems (my father had the same problem, didn’t deal with it until his mid thirties, and it involved major oral surgery, years of braces, and bridges)… I had them pulled, had braces for a little while, then had tooth implants – basically, artificial teeth.

    It’s pretty cool, really. The drill a hole in your jaw and sink an artificial “root”, then come back later and attach a post to it and then put on your basic crown.

    The weird part is that the post simply screws in, so they don’t have to numb you or anything, and the resulting feeling is INCREDIBLY WEIRD. “I have a socket in my jaw. I’m a cyborg.” But it’s much, MUCH better than bridges (which you have to clean under for the rest of time).

    Oh, and I love chiropractors, but then, I’ve got one who relieves my pain instead of adding to it, which not all chiropractors have quite mastered yet, apparently.

  12. Reluctant DM says:

    I broke a tooth in half when I was 5. 20 years and many “fake” half teeth later my dentist had nothing left to build on. The only option left was an entirely new tooth. The process was gruesome (think someone taking an ACTUAL FREAKING CHISEL to whats left of your tooth) but in the end I have a smashing new (entirely fake) tooth which can be easily replaced and I ever get into a bar fight. I should note that this is one of my front upper teeth.

    The details (don’t read if you’re squeemish) are:
    1. They removed the remnants of my tooth and made me a single-toothed denture so I wouldn’t look too funny. This was the most fun part because kids loved that I could make my tooth disapear!

    2. They installed a titanium socket where the root of the tooth was. This was the upsetting part with the chisel. But it was over relatively quickly and I got strong pain pills out of the deal. I still wore the denture while the socket healed and “set” (it has to mesh with your jawbone).

    3. They screwed a fake tooth into the socket. This was painless and kinda neat (I’m a bionic man!).

    It should be noted that this procedure was very expensive and only partially covered by my benefits.

  13. Drew says:

    “my mouth was full of gauze and agony”

    That’s your winning sentence right there. Nice one.

  14. lplimac says:

    I follow the “what does my insurance cover” rule. If my insurance pays for it I’ll go with what my Dentist says, if not I won’t. Yes I’m cheep, but I have good insurance :D

  15. GWvsJohn says:

    When you inevitably have the crown put in, be thankful it’s not one of your “two front teeth”

    I had to go see my dentist not once, not twice, but thrice before the crown was finally the right color to match the rest of my beautiful smile.

  16. Nephele says:

    I’m with lplimac on the insurance coverage thing. I had a back molar that was in sorry shape. The dentist suggested root canal and crown. I checked my insurance and they’d cover the root canal in full but only partial on the crown. This struck me as somewhat dumb since the root canal basically kills the tooth and you then need the crown to hold it together but, whatever. The result was that I would have had to come up with $600 which I couldn’t afford. I went with option number two – and got it pulled. Total cost for me $50. It was the last molar so there’s nothing visible and my teeth were a bit crowded so any shifting was actually okay.

  17. RobertB says:

    They have a same-day replacement tooth socket technology now, but I’m not sure how well it works. More not-for-the-squeamish: it works kind of like the screw holders you put in wallboard. They drill a hole, stick the holder in, and screw a post down into it. The post forces the edges of the holder out and make it bite into the bone. I suspect that if that goes bad though, you’re completely hosed.

  18. Lee1255 says:

    I have a story that happened to me called Mexican Dentistry that is far, far worse. It involves anesthesia running out during a root canal. Fun times.

  19. Maddy says:

    For whatever it’s worth, I hope you never have to experience anything like this again.

    PS – AWESOME comic. My gums really are jerks. Sometimes I think if I could get my gums replaced, my teeth would be fine.

  20. asterismW says:

    Ouch, man. Ouch.

    Timmy the Tooth there shouldn’t be so cocky about flossing, though. I once chipped a tooth while flossing. No joke.

  21. Matt C. says:

    Some thoughts on dentistry, particularly crowns. Not for the squeamish.

    I had my first root canal at the beginning of the year. That’s where the dremel out the inside of what’s left of your tooth and then shove progressively larger round rasp files down into the roots to obliterate the nerves. Besides giving me an education on the etymology of the term “root canal”, it also taught me something about crowns.

    Do not leave the office until you are absolutely certain that the crown fits properly. This will be hard to do with half your face numb, but what looks good to the sadist dentist after a couple of hours and what feels normal in your mouth when the drugs wear off are not the same. Finding out the next day that closing your mouth is now awkward is, itself, awkward.

  22. I had my wisdom teeth pulled by Army dentists (I am a Gulf War vet).

    One was infected.


    There is ouch, and then there’s OUOUOUOUOUOUOUCHHHHHH!

  23. Will says:

    One day, I’m minding my own business when my tooth literally explodes in my mouth. I had a baby tooth that refused to let go and make way for the adult tooth, so my adult tooth got all fullback with it and ran right up the middle.

    A few years back I got in a bicycle wreck and sheared off one of my top incisors just outside the gumline. It was a close thing whether they were going to have to pull the whole tooth or just cap it. They wanted to see how the nerve reacted, so I spent the first day with this play-doh like paste pressed over the raw nerve, and a temporary cap on it for the next week (until it broke free in the middle of dinner). The nerve survived two temporaries (how I don’t know, it was a month of misery) and now I have a huge “permanent” cap.

  24. Mark says:

    It seems to me like it would be better if everybody just had false teeth.

  25. DaveMc says:

    I second the applause for “my mouth was full of gauze and agony”. Truly a great phrase!

  26. Deoxy says:

    Truly a great phrase!

    Only when applied to someone else! Ouch.

  27. Cadrys says:

    Compared to 7 extractions (the wisdom teeth took other molars with them), getting a couple of crowns was essentially painless. [Nitrous is your friend. I didn’t *care* what they were doing.]

    Great object lesson in “brush your teeth, kids!” though.

  28. Adamantyr says:

    I got a nice curved chunk of one of my front upper teeth knocked out when I was 9… it also apparently killed a bottom front tooth from the impact, as it hurt and eventually required a root canal.

    My dentist at the time was good; my mom always said he was the best, hands down, of any dentist she’s ever been to, high scores on everything. He filled in the front tooth with an artificial piece, and eventually fixed up the bottom one. He told me it would probably last about five years. It lasted over fifteen, finally crumbling at an unexpected moment. My dentist at the time filled it in, but it was the wrong color and it only lasted about four years before a large sliver came off, forcing me to have the whole thing redone.

    As for pain, you can rate a dentist’s warnings as such:

    “This won’t hurt.” (Oh yeah, it will hurt.)
    “You may feel a slight pinch.” (This will hurt like HELL.)
    “This will hurt.” (Try not to scream directly into my ear.)

  29. Factoid says:

    What kind of a crown does he want to give you? I’m not sure why he bothered with putting in a material he knows is going to break.

    If it’s just a single tooth crown, the procedure isn’t too daunting. For anyone that doesn’t know it’s basically just a “glove” that goes over a badly decayed tooth. The dentist will prep the tooth by drilling out any of the bad parts, and then do a “build-up” using standard silver amalgam filling material to give it some sturdiness. Sometimes you have to wait a day or two for the build-up to harden, then they essentially just glue a tooth-shaped cover over the stump.

    It might sound awful and painful, but that’s what anesthetic is for. If you feel it, they aren’t using enough.

    If there isn’t enough “stump” for them to glue a crown onto, then they basically need to extract the remnants and anchor that crown to (ideally) one tooth on either side. If it’s the farthest back molar that doesn’t always work.

    Another cool option if you can’t do a bridge is to get an implant. (do a GIS for “dental implant xray for awesome pictures) They basically drill a metal post into your jaw and then attach a fake tooth to the top.

    In case anyone wonders how I know all this…I work at a dental school.

  30. trousercuit says:

    Thanks for writing that, Shamus. It made my day. I don’t feel shame saying that since writing it was probably cathartic. Thirds for “gauze and agony”. :) The imagery of the dentist climbing inside your mouth to reach a tooth between a couple of ribs was a close second. For a while I though I was reading a more intelligent Dave Barry.

    I’ve had great luck with dentists. My first wasn’t an oral surgeon but every dentist after who examined the results of the root canal he did said it was the best job they’d ever seen. (The remains still had to be pulled because of infection, though – in pieces. Apparently I have roots deep enough to make Jules Verne quake with glee. I’ll need an implant where 19 used to be, but the bare socket will do just fine for a few years yet.) My second dentist believed in the power of magnets, but he was generous with the lidocaine. My current dentist is an artist with fillings. (His dad paints, so artistry runs in the family.) I actually complimented him on how good they look and how well they fit, and his assistants joined in on the gushing. They said hardly anyone notices, and I felt their indignation.

    I have one burning question about dentistry: What’s with the harem? Every dentist I’ve been to has been a man with at least three concubines… er, female assistants. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they’re customarily managed by eunuchs. A follow up question: does this have anything to do with the higher suicide rate?

  31. Joshua says:

    I had to have a tooth pulled once, for some reason I don’t recall. I remember the dentist puffing me full of anesthetic or something, which made me a little woozy and made me think there was a whistling man behind me.

    He says, “Now I’m just gonna put a little pressure on the tooth, so you shouldn’t feel much.”

    I’ve always been a bit hardy against gases and such, because I’ve always had a hellaciously strong immune system, so his little gassy stuff apparently didn’t do its entire job, or he was just lying.

    “Alright.” I reply.

    Poke… YANK!

    “Agh! What happened to ‘just a little pressure’!”

    “Well, that’s all I did. Here’s your tooth.”

    He gave me a fragment of it. I still had two incredibly sharp spikes at the back of my mouth, which would torment me for two years. No one would ever believe that he didn’t take out the whole thing out, not even him. He never cared to check, either.


    I’ve never heard or seen anyone say or write, “Harvesting of my organs,” unless it had something to do with aliens or zombies. That was great.

  32. =Dan says:


    I feel your pain…OK not really nor would I want. Just reading that makes my jaw ache. The only thing that I think may be similar is that I had 6 wisdom teeth with 2 impacted and one on its side growing into my tongue. Yeah it was fun, I had to go twice (once each for upper and lower jaw) and the first time it took a bit for the nitrous to go to work. I still have a vivid memory of seeing the reflection of my bloody mouth in the light above me.

    As you said OUCH!

  33. =Dan says:

    Ouch is right….

    I had 6 wisdom teeth, 2 impacted and one growing into my tongue. I was forced to see the “dentist” twice for that, once for the upper and once for the lower. And I am a prolific bleeder so overall it was a great experience, I recommend it to everyone. ;-D

  34. Joel says:

    Only one bit of advice: if it ever starts to abscess, or even *looks* like it might, get it treated as fast as superhumanly possible.

    Otherwise, you may find yourself spending an hour and a half in the dental chair screaming *because you cannot stop doing so*, as they dig all of the pieces out.

    Oh, and as for painkillers? 5+ shots of Novacaine don’t help as much as you might think, since an abscess is an acidic environment (rapidly breaks down most locals) that is, by definition, shielded from most things crossing from the rest of your gums (since that’s what an abscess *is*).

    On everyone’s favorite ER “1 to 10” scale, kidney stones rates at about 7-8, and I have it on good authority that birthing is on a par. That experience is 10. Maybe 11.

    Oh, and the dentist involved is an *excellent* dentist. I still go to her. Both root canals were pretty much non-events, and I’ve had both a bridge placement (think ‘grind down the two teeth on either side of the abscess, and fit a three-tooth mimic over it all’ — including removal with, I kid you not, a hook-tipped *slide hammer*) and replacement done by her and it was… tolerable.

    And if your dentist *ever* says “May I ask my assistants to come in and see this? They’re unlikely to ever have the chance to see one outside of a textbook again”, you know you’re in trouble.

  35. guy says:

    i had my first root canal at the age of five, before the anesthetic kicked in. or, in other words, ow.

  36. Namfoodle says:

    I’ve had a total of 8 teeth pulled because my teeth were a bit too big for my jaw, according to the orthodontist. The 4 wisdom teeth came out in my teen years under IV anesthetic, and that wasn’t so bad.

    But I was very much awake for the 4 bicuspids, and that sucked all kinds of ass. Despiet Nitrous and Novacaine, I could feel the teeth being twisted out and broken free of my jaw. That was most unpleasant!

    Compared to that, all my other dental work has been a piece of cake. I had one root canal and a crown, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

    Man Up and get it done! Most of my problems stem from the fact that between leaving home for college at 18 and getting married at 30, I never went to the dentist. Skipping a dozen years of cleanings and checkups was a bad idea. Now I get 3 cleanings a year instead of just 2.

    By the way, didn’t you only get ONE organ harvested? No fair using the plural.

  37. Davesnot says:

    His offer was something with which I was down…. that’s cool writin’ there!

    As to pain.. well.. I hear ya.. but.. well.. when I was in first grade.. my family took me to a dentist that “didn’t beleive in novacaine”.. which means.. he filled 3 teeth without any numbing stuff.. nuthin’.. I remember that pain.. I remember my body crawling all over the chair.. I remember a friend that came in there with me.. his eyes were huge watching me in the hands of satan himself.

    Now that I’m an adult.. I make sure I relate my story to them.. the strange thing is.. none of them are shocked.. they nod their heads as if they’ve heard it many times before.

    And they assure me that they aren’t like that.. well.. one.. after this whole thing.. says, “here.. I’ll take care of this without another visit.. just a quick drillin’.. and then he was in.. I didn’t even have time to say, “uh.. what?”.. and.. there was that familiar jolt of lightning.. I never went back.. I eventually did pay the man.. but my whole family.. 4 insured mouths.. gone.. I didn’t ask to save any money.. moron…

    I do have a crown.. it was done by a good dentist. It didn’t hurt.. my muscles were sore from keeping my mouth open.. and the novacaine shot hurt a milisecond.. but.. nothin.. even a three-day tooth-ache that ended in a root canal.. nothing compares to that day in first grade..

    funny.. I too had a temp filling in for like 2 years.. I bet that sucker was leachin’ lead or mercury into me in large doses.. *shrugs*

    oh.. and that crown.. I too delayed the inevitable.. to save some money.. which means I paid for both procedures in the long run…

    get the crown.. same pain as anything else… and the story ends.

    And dentists are a dime a dozen.. do some googlin’… and get one that makes you comfortable.

  38. Wonderduck says:

    Once upon a time when I was young and stupid, I went to the dentist to have a cavity filled. As it was a large cavity, roughly the size of Meteor Crater, there was going to be a decent amount of novacaine involved… I figured the usual three shots, maybe four.

    The shots went in, and my dentist and I chatted a bit. He tested my mouth, and I felt it, so he gave me another shot. And another. And another. A total of 12 shots of novacaine. Finally, he was able to go in and do his work.

    When he was done, I thanked him (mushily, as the left side of my face from my eyebrows to roughly my shoulder was numb) and went back to work. At my retail job.

    About 45 minutes later, I’m standing there talking to a customer about this new style of cellphone called a PCS (told you this was a long time ago), describing the benefits and features, when he holds up his hand and says “stop.”

    Then came the words I’ll never forget: “Do you know you’re drooling?”

    I put my hand to my chin, and it’s soaked. As is my neck and shirt collar.

    I explained what was going on, he laughed, and excused himself. I didn’t get that sale.

  39. Telas says:

    I have a great oral surgeon. This is a good thing, because I’ve had six root canals on one tooth in the last three months.

    I came back from a vacation with what I thought was a sinus infection – you know, pain in that pocket between the nose, cheekbone, and mouth. I tried to drain it by standing on my head, took Sudafed, etc. but no go. My face starts swelling up a bit, and my incisor is kinda sensitive. I finally figured it might be tooth-related, and went to the dentist. One x-ray later, I’ve got confirmation of an infection in a prior-root-canaled tooth.

    I get sent to an oral surgeon. Who isn’t in today, so his partner sees me, tells me I need an “I&D” TODAY, STAT, etc… His help finds me another flavor of oral surgeon who does the I&D, which (it turns out) stands for “incision and drain”. They tie surgical tubing into a knot, and stitch it into a slit cut into my gumline, way up by where it meets my lip. Then I rinse with Listerine, which is cool because a few minutes later, I touch the area I was swollen in, and taste Listerine again. Whoah.

    I take Vicodin and touch my face for the rest of the day, eventually tasting blood instead of Listerine. The drain gets removed in a couple of days, and I go to the oral surgeon who wasn’t there originally for a root canal. Did I mention that he’s good? I hardly ever feel anything when he’s shooting or drilling. Anyway, he opens up the tooth, asks me who did it, and smiles and nods when I manage to say “the Army”. He tells me it wasn’t very good, and will need to be redone.

    Over the next few months and five office visits, he attempts “apexification”, or the regrowing of the apex (very base) of the tooth. It finally happens a couple of weeks ago, thanks to a compound called MTA. However, my tooth is out a bit more than it was, and is sensitive to biting pressure.

    So I get to go back for something called an “apicoectomy”. This does not sound fun. Basically, there is now scar tissue between the tooth and the skull, and it has to be removed via a “window” cut into the gum line.

    Sigh. My wife is now nine months pregnant (due in three weeks), so my primary source of sympathy has her own issues (and I can’t complain; mothers are saints merely for the act of carrying and delivering a child). And I get to go back again and get drilled, etc.

    So Shamus, I completely and totally sympathize!

  40. Shamus says:

    Telas: If my strapping young dentist had knocked out my tooth with a brick and insulted my mother, I still wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to that tale of woe.


    Also: Good luck.

    Also again: Congrats on the Baby! May it have better teeth than you. (But not right away.)

  41. Nick says:

    “Hang tough, it's no worse than a filling. Just don't be shy about asking for more novacaine.”

    Obviously someone who has never had any root canal work done.

  42. ArchU says:

    Shamus, at a younger age than you I had a crown put in to secure a tooth that had been deteriorating and refilled many times over a six-to-seven year period. It started with a root canal to clear out an infection in the root (3 canals in that molar) by a lovely Phillipino specialist – 3 sessions in as many weeks with her, and it was not cheap. The dentist then took an impression of the tooth and sent it to a specialist to create the ceramic crown, and drilled out the remainder of the tooth to fit. He also put a titanium/steel reinforcing post in the tooth to hold it together. The crown went over after about another week.

    Never do I want to go through that again.

    Overall the work was excellent but now there is a tiny gap between the crown and the molar behind it that is just large enough to have me daily flossing things out of there – chicken, neighbours, small boats…you get the idea.

    Still it’s better than an extraction so get your tooth fixed =p

    Also, *hug* for #22 Leslee Beldotti. Ouch indeed.

    Also also, have to agree with #29 Factoid for “It might sound awful and painful, but that's what anesthetic is for. If you feel it, they aren't using enough.”

  43. Oh man, that reminds me when they removed one of my wisdom teeth. I was choking on tooth pieces that had fallen down my throat and they wouldn’t stop when I started struggling. The assistants just started holding me down.

    I’m so glad I don’t have any tooth problems other than that one time. Actually it was my gums because of the tooth then. I have good teeth, thank God.

    I’m sorry for your pain. Bomb the clinic! ;p


  44. Noumenon says:

    I guess if they can save the tooth, might as well, but if you get it extracted, the dental implants are super cool. The alternative is a bridge between two of your other good teeth. But that cost about the same as the implant and involves filing away parts of your good teeth. Whereas the implant can actually be used as a base for a bridge in the future.

    If you get the tooth extracted, make the decision about the implant right away. Once you have no tooth in there, your jawbone begins to be reabsorbed into the gum. So if you wait, you have less bone and a smaller cross-section to bear the base of the implant.

  45. ryanlb says:

    I had a root canal two weeks ago. It was almost completely painless. There were a couple of times during the procedure that I felt some mild pain (and tried not to think about him digging the pulp out with a metal file), but it hasn’t hurt since. Leading up to the procedure I only had about 2 weeks of sensitive tooth/pain. Not sure how I got off so lucky, but I’m glad.

    I’m supposed to go in and get a crown in another couple of weeks. I didn’t know it was supposed to be painful, I was expecting a nice easy procedure, and now I’m getting worried. So, thanks a lot!

  46. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Got to admit, Shamus, it seems like a little while since one of your posts earned me dirty looks from my co-workers as I laughed my ass off. Hopefully, you recognize that I was not laughing at your pain, but at your masterful description of the processes involved. I have enjoyed your discussions on DRM and associated ephemera, but I really enjoy the way you can create comedy gold from everyday things.
    Thanks again.

  47. All respect to you folks and your various sufferings, but either I just have preternaturally perfect teeth or ya’ll are pansies. Granted, I had to wear braces for 4.5 years and they actually had to change the shape of my jaw to get my teeth fixed, plus I had a phrenectomy. Not as nasty as it sounds.

    About five years ago I got my wisdom teeth out (3 of them). Local anesthetic, elapsed time from my arrival at the dentist’s office until I drove myself home: 25 minutes. I forgot to ask to see the teeth, though, that might have been pretty cool. By the time the local anesthetic wore off I was fine. They gave me vicodin and 800 mg motrin but the vicodin made me throw up so I didn’t take any after the first one.

  48. Christian Groff says:

    Hey, be glad it’s your first crown. I was so totally negligent with my dental hygiene in childhood(and my folks never forced me to brush), I ended up getting cavities in almost all my teeth and having so many fillings, then crowns when the fillings failed to work, that I’m used to it by now.

    In fact, last week I chipped a filling that was put it a year ago and it had to be refilled. Thank God it only needed a little anthesia!

    I’m so sorry for your old dentist’s death, though. :(

  49. You think you’ve had it rough? I’ve:

    1) had a tumorous tooth removed
    2) had an implant
    3) had a metal rod attached to the implant
    4) had the implant removed (it BROKE, how the hell does that happen?)
    5) had a new implant
    6) had a metal rod attached to the new implant

    1, 2, 4, and 5 all involved drilling in my skull and regrowing the bone afterwards with some crunchy stuff packed in there and held with stitches, and 3 and 6 only involved cutting through gum.

    I currently have a plastic (temporary) tooth glued firmly to my metal rod, and any time something pokes the inside of my upper lip I have horrible thoughts of not being able to feel my face.

    Telas wins…

  50. Crixon says:

    I wish humans were able to regrow teeth like sharks and such … would make things SOOO much easier … :

  51. Kaeltik says:

    The men in my family have ungodly hard teeth. This has a benefit: one cavity in three generations. My deepest sympathies go out to those of you who have experienced such things. Hard teeth also have a drawback: easy chipping and cracking. Fortunately, my father warned me in advance, so in 28 years I’ve had only one minor chip. Unfortunately, it also meant that the roots of mt baby teeth almost never dissolved or even weakened. Therefor, I have had 19 teeth extracted in batches of up to six. My second oral surgeon was afraid to allow my last two (of four) wisdom teeth to develop rock hard roots, so he opted to dig them out of my jaw bone long before they ever reached the surface.

  52. solemndragon says:

    oh geez.

    i have sjogren’s… something like twelve fillings, three crowns…

    i think i know the mystery filling material, because my dentist did the same thing. It reconstructed two of my teeth, lasted, and was covered with other filling later.

    My new dentist (my old one transferred far away, and didn’t even tell me he was leaving) saw this and said, and i quote…

    “What the HELL was he thinking? You need two preventive crowns- those teeth are GOING to break!”

    When i assured them that i was game as long as it was my insurance, and not me, paying for it, they calmed down and said i could do it next year.. which means this year, and i need to give them a call.

    *sigh* Thank you for reminding me.

  53. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.I’m
    trying to find things to improve my website!I suppose
    its ok to use some of your ideas!!

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