Dental Drama, part one

The movers didn’t come. Why? I wasn’t ready! I have been suffering from tooth pain for the past 2-3 weeks and this impacted my productivity in a huge way. Listen to my sad story.

It all started because my new job doesn’t have dental insurance. In fact, their health benefits are pretty pathetic all around but that’s another story. Knowing the high cost of dental care in the US and knowing I had some minor dental issues I decided to get them taken care of before I left. Medical tourism is on the rise and the Philippines is a popular destination. Manila, in particular, has excellent hospitals and the doctors here are top-notch. I decided I should get my teeth checked out before I left and have any work done here at a fraction of the cost.

So a couple of weeks ago I made an appointment with Dr. Thor (not his real name). Coco’s dentist recommended him to me. I went for a check up and after a few x-rays he told me I had a cavity that needed to be filled. When I went to have it filled I was in awe of him. He was so gentle and the first dentist to fill a cavity pain-free. I was thinking in my head how awesome he was and staring into his eyes with love as he worked. He must have read my mind because as soon as he finished the procedure he started talking about his girlfriend! LOL. I wasn’t looking at him like that! Okay, maybe a little. I got carried away at his awesome dental skills! When he said to come back the next week to get my crown replaced I thought nothing of it and made an appointment.

This was where things went drastically wrong.

I sat down in his chair for my second appointment feeling very relaxed and optimistic. I had a slight gap between the top of my crown and the gum line and although the area wasn’t giving me much pain–say a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-10 and it was intermittent at that– I wasn’t terribly concerned but I figured that with a gap food and bacteria must have entered and it was best to get it dealt with promptly. After administering the Novocaine, Dr. Thor got to work. He didn’t see any decay but he said it was best to take a look and then adjust the crown properly. However, fifteen minutes into the procedure he was still unable to get my crown loosened. And this is where things turned for the worse. He took out a tool kind of like a hammer (to be honest I only got a glimpse of it as I usually keep my eyes squeezed tightly shut during dental work) and used it to tap lightly on the tooth. That didn’t work so he started tapping harder. And harder. It was starting to hurt. I was under anesthesia but I was feeling more than pressure, yet still he continued to bang on my tooth. He started using more and more force and tears sprung to my eyes. As the tears rolled down my teeth, I started to question him. “Why are you using a hammer?!” That’s what we use to remove crowns here. “Didn’t you go to dental school in the States?” Yes. “Well I have never had a crown removed with a hammer before!” Don’t worry; it’s common practice. Just relax, I’ll have it out any minute. “Well, what do I know? I thought to myself. I didn’t go to dental school.” But deep down I knew that that wasn’t the best way to remove a crown. It shouldn’t be so painful.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Finally after about 15 hard blows to my tooth it came loose and continued with the procedure. After making the mold for a new crown he fitted me with a temporary and sent me on my way. That night I had a lot of pain; it was now up to a 6. And it continued for a few more nights. I was popping Advil like crazy. I called him and shared my concerns and he brought me in for another appointment. He had planned to put on the permanent crown at this point but he said that due to my complaints of pain he couldn’t do it until I was checked out by an endodontist to see if a root canal was necessary. A root canal?! What in the world? He made an appointment for me for the next afternoon to see Dr. Fashionplate.

I had (almost) learned my lesson to go only to someone a friend had recommended but with pain so bad I couldn’t wait around to get recommendations and make future appointments. I went ahead to her but I Googled her first. The only article I could find about her was an article about hot doctors where she was modeling a Diane von Fürstenberg dress. I didn’t think this was a good sign but I was desperate. She turned out to be professional and seemingly competent. She looked at my x-rays and my offending tooth and decided that it didn’t need a root canal after all. She said it looked perfect and that my pain didn’t make sense. The only reasons she could think of why my pain wasn’t showing up on an x-ray was because of trauma or because it was actually the tooth beside it that was causing the pain– however, the x-ray of that tooth looked fine, too. Go back to Dr. Thor and have him remove both crowns simultaneously and examine them both to determine the root of my pain (no pun intended) and then come back to me for the root canal if needed, she said. “Can’t you just remove the other crown now while I’m here in your chair under anesthesia?” I inquired. No, I don’t do crowns. That’s not my specialty. “Don’t do the crown, just examine the tooth to see if a root canal is necessary,” I pleaded since I didn’t want to waste the afternoon’s injections. Sorry, I don’t do crowns. You need to go back to Dr. Thor for that.

Over my dead body. There was NO way I was going back to Dr. Thor to remove another crown. I just didn’t have a good feeling about it. So I left Dr. Fashionplate’s office and returned home. I got home late that night–the appointment wasn’t over until after 6pm and Coco was already asleep. I hate coming home after she’s asleep so I did what I always do: I went in and checked on her, gave her a kiss and whispered in her ear what a sweet little girl she is. Then, out of sheer exhaustion I snuggled up next to her and promptly fell asleep.

Around 11 pm I awoke to the most painful stabbing pain in my gums, jaw and head. It was practically unbearable. I went to the kitchen and rummaged for the Advil by the dim stove light and gulped two down with some lukewarm water. Then I went into my bedroom and eventually fell back to sleep only to be awoken again around 3 am with searing pain running across my left shoulder, across both upper and lower left jaw and up the left side of head. I tried to massage the pain out but it didn’t subside; I squeezed the life out of the the fleshy part between my thumb and forefinger but the pain remained; I tried deep breathing and relaxation techniques but nothing worked. I trudged back into the kitchen for another dose of Advil, desperate for some relief. I popped two more Advil and went back to massaging my head praying for the pain to stop. But this time it did not. It keep on, for hours, unrelenting. Throbbing head pain, stabbing jaw pain and shooting pains across my shoulders and up my neck. My heart rate started to become jagged and uneven, or at least I thought so. After four hours of pain I started to think it was something more serious. The pain was now a terrifying 12 on a scale of 1-1o and I was crying in desperation. Why wasn’t the pain going away? It was at this point that I started Googling my symptoms and got freaked out.Wanting to be more safe than sorry I decided to check myself into the nearest hospital to be sure it truly stemmed from the dental work.

to be continued…

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One Response to Dental Drama, part one

  1. Roxana says:

    I am waiting anxiously for part 2 of dental trouble!

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