Journey down the Root Canal

My visit to the endodontist yesterday (Tuesday) could be described as a success.  He confirmed based on my description of the pain and a neat diagnostic trick involving a piece of ice that a root canal was in order.  And the endodontist was able to immediately proceed…so long as I paid the deposit and signed my life away.

For a mere $1,450, am now the possessor of a gutted tooth.  Although I’m sore, the process itself wasn’t unduly painful or distressing.  The use of power grinders/drills was actually rather limited, and most of the process seemed to involve manual work with small needle-like files. I elected to spend most of my time during the process with my eyes closed, so I didn’t attempt to closely watch what was going on. 

Looking at the root canal entry on Wikipedia, which includes a picture or two of the files used, I can see the broach file more or less matches what I imagined he was using.  A tiny, pin like thing for going down inside the tooth core: it was all done by hand, and he kept asking for different sizes of files, all of which seemed tiny to me.  Tiny or not, the endodontist still had to put some elbow grease into the process- my jaw is sore and tired, and my entire face feels worn out.

I guess it will be a week or so before I feel confident that the pain is gone for good.  If it is, then the last few days will have been worth it.  I have another couple of “ordinary” dental appointments before I’m done, though- how much do you want to bet that another nerve or something will become involved?  I hope not…

[tags]dentist, endodontics, root canal[/tags]

7 thoughts on “Journey down the Root Canal”

  1. $1500 eh? Double ouch. I hope you have a better benefits plan than my “only management need teeth” package. I suggest you prescribe yourself some medicinal beer.

  2. I should total this up…the initial treatment was about $500, then the crown was about $800, then the root canal was $1,450. So…coming up on $3,000. A nice new computer, a downpayment on a new car, or the size of my annual bonus after taxes on a good year. All of that wasted on a tooth.

    I pay first, then my insurance company pays me whatever pittance they feel I deserve. My insurance, knowing how useless IBM’s insurance is, will likely cover about half of the cost. Better than nothing, I guess, but not the gold-plated health plan covering 80-90% of dental fees that a government worker funded by my tax money would likely get.

    Am I bitter? No, not really: the work needed to be done, some of the cost is covered, and I’m in a position to afford the rest. Lots of people in the world aren’t so lucky. But the beer sounds really good. Assuming things go as planned, I should be past the point of needing extra painkillers by Friday, so I’ll pick up a case then 🙂

    My favorite part of the process was the pain test. I told the endodontist that I was having a hard time figuring out for certain where the pain originated. It was definitely on the same side as my recent crown work, but radiated all over the jaw, sometimes even coming from the upper jaw. I already knew that tapping didn’t seem to generate a pain response. Cool water would, but in several teeth. The impression I got was that this is not uncommon: I guess the nerves are inter-connected and, once part of it gets aggravated, the pain becomes generalized. Anyway, Dr. Cambruzzi nodded after my explanation, walked away, and came back with an incredibly sophisticated diagnostic tool- a forcep with a little chunk of ice. Two seconds later, it was absolutely clear where the pain was originating: and I hadn’t even bitten through the forcep!

    It maybe sounds a little cruel, but it worked perfectly: it was totally clear to me which tooth harboured the worst pain. As I say, I won’t feel sure that the problem is “corrected” for a week or so, so I’m not yet willing to be really thankful. However, so far, so good…

  3. Heh. Remember, I am a government employee and your dental work is a couple months take home pay. My “gold plated” plan would cover IIRC the first $300, not including the initial visit. Now, the mgmt get 100% coverage and they just flash their card and don’t have to worry about reimbursement or forms or anything else … but they also get $150 a month for “therapeutic massage” Not all government employees are created equal *sigh*

    I must admit though I do find humour in the fact that your journey into “modern dentistry” has had as it’s biggest visit something that could be done by prehistoric stone age man. 😉 Compare to 9000 years ago:

  4. True, not all government employees are created equally. I was mainly referring to federal bureaucrats, and I suppose career provincial workers of the same level. But no matter how I look at it, private sector coverage never seems to compare to what is offered to either provincial or federal employees, certainly not at an equivalent level to me.

    As for the stone age work- something tells me Ugak of the Bear Clan didn’t have any painkillers 🙂

  5. So for all of this barbarism, the only discernible difference from 9000 years ago is I get to taste minty freshness if I’m lucky.

  6. I suspect Ugak had some nice concoction of fermented berries, grain and mushrooms that probably had him following the white rabit the whole time 😉 But he probably only had to pay 2 goats… which in todays market would be a bargain *lol*

    Oblivions, I wouldn’t worry … I’ve sat and watched you drink 4 l of milk and crack open bones… I think your teeth are made of more durable stuff like adamantine.

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