The day before my birthday I woke up with a toothache. Cold really bothered it. Hot drinks bothered it, but not as much. If I left it alone the pain dulled, but as soon as I ate or drank anything the pain shot back up again. It got worse as the day went on, so I ended up at the dentist's that afternoon. I was sure that it was a tooth on the upper left, second from the back. I've had problems with that tooth before, and it had always been attributed to sinuses. This time it was much worse.
After poking and prodding the tooth, and subjecting it to cold, and having an x-ray, I was told that my tooth was very healthy and they couldn't find anything wrong with it. 'I don't doubt that you're in pain. We just don't see anything.' My dentist gave me a referral anyway to a root canal specialist. All my symptoms pointed toward a root canal. 'Maybe he can find something,' she said. 'He's very conservative. He won't do anything unless you absolutely need it.'
I talked with the husband that night. I was really hesitant- I didn't want to have a root canal unless it was absolutely necessary, and it didn't sound like it was. Also, I didn't want to have a root canal on my birthday. I decided to see how I felt the next day.
The next day it felt better. And over the next couple of days the pain was barely there. But Sunday afternoon it came back, and it was there when I woke up on Monday. With Thanksgiving coming up I really didn't want to wait too long. I called and made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon.
This was good because on Tuesday my face hurt. The whole left side. I was miserable and I couldn't eat. I was actually looking forward to a root canal.
I went in at 2:30. The waiting room quickly filled up with people who were sent straight from their dentist's offices. Scheduling there must be crazy. Despite the emergencies I was seen pretty quickly. Dr. C came in and I liked him right away. He told me that he was surprised that my tooth hurt because he couldn't see anything wrong on the x-ray I brought. He did a lot of the same stuff that I'd already gone through at the dentist's office. Everything seemed fine.
'You know, you have a crack on this bottom tooth. Let me see if that's the problem.' Strangely, when he squirted my bottom back tooth with cold water, it hurt like hell. Everything he did to that stupid tooth hurt. I was amazed that that tooth was the problem, yet a totally different tooth was in pain. He said that happens sometimes. Fucking teeth.
Anyway, the root canal was done quickly and rather painlessly. My face was numb but otherwise it was no problem to pick up my dad from the airport right after the procedure. And I was fine to eat dinner that night. My jaw is a little sore, but otherwise things seem to be fine. I have a follow up appointment with Dr. C on Wednesday.
Out of curiosity, I looked up teeth and RAI. I've always had great teeth. In my twenties I got two very small cavities- probably because brushing teeth after closing down bars doesn't make for the best cleaning. But that's it. Never any problems otherwise, so it's weird to suddenly need a root canal. Turns out that radioactive iodine can actually promote tooth decay- having a dry mouth allows bacteria to breed. And a few people mentioned that after RAI their teeth broke more easily too. Maybe as a result of lower calcium? But the direct effects on broken teeth from RAI are less clear. In the meantime, no more chewing on ice cubes for me.