An account from a Sacramento Dentistry Group patient
Who doesn’t love a good chocolate-covered almond? Nutty snack foods are a regular item in our house and I’ve never had a problem with them until recently. One almond seemed to squeeze right between my two back molars on the upper left side as I bit down on the nut. When that happened, the first molar actually felt like it moved! Obviously, I was shocked and worried, so I arranged a visit with my regular dentist.
He thoroughly examined both molars. The first molar had an old filling; the second molar had a new one, only three months old, on the backside. It was right up against the gums, since my wisdom teeth were removed when I was younger. X-rays did not show him anything suspicious, so he made an appointment to replace the old filling and left it at that.
I Decide to Get a Second Opinion
Still, it felt like something was wrong with one or the other molar, or even both. When I would eat something cold, the pain on that side was terrible! When I would put pressure on the left side teeth, I could feel a mysterious pressure. Something was not right and I wanted a second opinion. I decided to visit the Sacramento Dentistry Group and ask for Dr. Castro, since I feared the need for a root canal and had heard that she is very good at this procedure.
Like my first dentist, Dr. Castro confirmed that the filling in my first molar needed replacing. Then she closely examined the second filling with an intra-oral camera and additional x-rays. She suspected something was going wrong underneath that filling, but first repaired the old filling, with my approval. Fortunately, there was nothing else seriously wrong with the first molar.
Although Dr. Castro did not fault my original dentist or his work, she diagnosed additional decay and infection in the second tooth and below the gumline. Removing that filling confirmed this was the case. To save my second molar, I needed root canal treatment.
Root Canal Now or Later?
The work with the exam and fillings had taken an hour, but I was already in the dental chair and did not want to deal with the toothache any longer. Given the choice by Dr. Castro to do the entire root canal procedure now or leave parts of it for later, I went with now! I have never feared dental work, so I opted only for local anesthesia, without oral sedation or nitrous oxide.
First a block was inserted in my mouth to keep the tongue out of the way. Then the gums had to be cut away from the infected area to allow room to work. The area around the tooth was covered with material to keep it as clean as possible and to keep stuff from going down my throat.
Now Dr. Castro had to clean out all of the infection. I could tell that she was working carefully and thoroughly. Using irrigation and tiny probes, my tooth was completely cleaned out. To check her progress, periodically she would take additional images with a handheld x-ray device and the intraoral camera. When this revealed more canals in the tooth that needed treatment, she repeated the process until all the decay was gone. Then she filled it with a protective material. I received a temporary crown to cap the tooth. It feels funny, because unlike a regular tooth, the temporary is completely smooth.
Throughout the procedure, Dr. Castro checked on how I was feeling and whether I was okay. She was very careful throughout the the whole time that I was in the dental chair. At different points she asked if I needed a break or if I wanted to wrap it up and return to finish it later, but I decided to just do it!
Although I was told that I might have pain for up to a week afterward, I only took painkillers on the day of the surgery and honestly felt fine the next day. My teeth are no longer sensitive. The procedure was well worth it and I’m glad I did it ASAP.
Since my gums need to heal before any additional work is done, I am waiting six weeks to receive my permanent crown. Since I’m not supposed to brush the upper left arch for five days while the gums heal, Dr. Castro gave me a prescription mouthwash to keep those teeth clean. I look forward to telling you all about what it’s like to change out a temporary crown for a permanent one sometime next month.