nicole rademacher

Friday, April 24, 2009

Au revoir

I had to say good-bye to piece of metal that had resided in my mouth since December 31st 2004.

It took him three sessions to kill all the nerve, to scrape it all out. By the end of it the right side of my face was tender, sore, and not happy. The last session took place on New Year's Eve. I went to a réveillon that night, being that I was in France, and could only give half of my usual kisses, as my right side was too tender to share the New Year's love with the traditional 4 kisses allotted in Nantes.

Eventually it healed. But I always had this metallic taste in my mouth.

About a year later I went to the dentist again (this time in Spain) because, as I learned, I was grinding my teeth during my sleep. She took some x-rays. Her, not so positive, comment about the work of this particular root canal was, "no está mal" (it's not bad). The stress was placed on "mal" as if to say that it was close to "bad" but not quite there, perhaps if I [I'm talking as if I am my dentist] inspected it more I could use the word "bad" but, for the moment, I will stay with the thought that it is not "mal", but perhaps could be - how 'bout I just don't look at it any more then we don't have to find out if it is "mal" or not?? Yeah, let's do that!

Later I returned to the States. Dental care wasn't included in my student health plan, but my mother found a dental "plan" for me. So, I paid some hundred and fifty dollars or so - just in case. A sunny yet bitterly cold Friday in February of 2007, I went to the Foundations class I was TA for even though I hadn't gotten much sleep because I was awoken at 2am, or so, with a horrible toothache and couldn't get back to sleep. By noon I had taken more than the recommended amount of Ibuprofen that an adult should take in a 24-hour period. I went to health services and they gave me a list of dentists in the area - none of whom would accept my dental "plan". I found one 35 minutes away (by car) that could see me in a few hours.

After some prodding and an x-ray I was told that I would need a root-canal (for the tooth next to my expensive metallic French accessory - that was the trouble-causer this time). I have to admit, it was emotional: I had instant memories of the three excruciating sessions I had endured at the end of 2004 with its neighbor. Using some muscle relaxation techniques, I finally calmed down and called my mother to lend me the thousand dollars to pay for the procedure.

It was simple and not even really painful, uncomfortable, but not painful. They used a dental damn and hence I slobbered all over myself. Needless to say, crying and slobbering in front of complete strangers is a humbling experience.

But, the dentist mentioned the French neighbor. He couldn't be certain, but there seemed to be either a shadow or an infection on the French gum line. There seemed to be missing bone. Missing bone? But he wasn't sure if it was an infection or a shadow?? That sounded fishy. He said the only way to find out would be to cut off the crown and have a look. Hmmmm. Another thousand dollars (or more) to see if there was something wrong was not in my budget. Funny enough in January of 2008 the crown popped off while in Chile (on vacation). I inspected it - no infection that I could see!! I went to a "drive-thru dentist" and got the crown re-cemented on.

Full-time jobs come with benefits, and sometimes those benefits include dental coverage. In November of 2008 I went to get my teeth cleaned (that was the only thing on my agenda for that visit). While spending a long time chipping away at plaque, the dental hygienist thought there might be something funny with that number trente; so, an x-ray was taken. A similar fickle diagnosis was given. This dentist wanted to monitor it. Unfortunately I had to tell him that I was moving out of the country in two months. I got a copy of the x-ray and went abroad.

Mid-March, while eating a chocolate breakfast bar (not for breakfast), I felt something small and hard in my mouth. It was conspicuous because these particular breakfast bars didn't have hard and crunchies. I skillfully sifted through the food with my tongue and fished out the culprit: a small piece of tooth colored porcelain. I looked in the mirror and I could see that part of my "half porcelain/half metal" French accessory was missing some porcelain. Curious as it was, I wasn't too concerned. I decided that this would have to wait until my new dental benefits kicked in (May). I just brushed, flossed, and swished with Listerine more often.

But after a few weeks I just couldn't knock that newly strong metallic taste in my mouth. I got concerned. I decided to go to a dentist. Of course I forgot to bring the copies I had made of my x-rays, so new ones were taken. "Está tan claro como agua" (It is crystal clear), my new Chilean dentist said (yes, this is the fourth country that has dealt with this tooth or its neighbor, who I think only had a problem because of the shotty job that was done with Trente): the post that was put in penetrated the tooth into the gum and has been eating away at the bone. He saw that directly from the x-ray. I have had 3 x-rays of that thing since the horrific and terrifying experience of late 2004.

That's besides the point. So, we talk about my options: cut off the French accessory, clean out the problem, replace the post, mend the hole, get a new ALL PORCELAIN crown - yeah, there was only one option: do it. Luckily he is a friend of a friend so I only paid about half of what it would really cost, but nonetheless it is still an enormous amount to pay at one go. I paid it. At least this time I didn't have to do any muscle relaxation techniques or call my mother.

The procedure is taking longer than I expected. He gets out a small blow torch. He seems to be rushing a bit. I felt pain. He gave me another shot of Novocaine directly into the tooth bed. Turns out the implicated post that penetrated into my gum was made of Mercury. So, there was more blood than expected and a nerve had been pinched, which is what caused my pain. All in all, the French job was more botched than expected.

Since the repairs have been made, I have had a temporary crown that, of course, split in two the second day. Don't worry, I got that replaced. Now I am waiting for my perfect, purty porcelain crown to arrive.

No more metal for me.

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