August 24, 2011

How a misspent youth comes back to haunt you

Twenty-some years ago I was working for Chili's, my first food service industry job.  My usual schedule was get up around noon, go to work around 3, work the evening shift, drink in the parking lot or go to a party, go home and do it all over again.  We had a nifty system worked out among the staff, that the first server cut took everyone's order and money and made the run to the liquor store.

During this time, I required some significant dental work.  My current dentist says that some people just have weak enamel, and I am one of them.  My work schedule and the time needed for the dental work necessitated that my dental appointments take place early in the morning.

So bright and early one morning 20+ years ago, I stumbled out of bed, somewhere between still slightly intoxicated and extremely hungover, and drove to the dentist's office for two root canals.  Now, I did the whole extreme brushing, flossing and gargling thing that is usual prior to a dental visit - but that doesn't do much good when Budweiser is venting from every pore in your skin. 

You would have thought that the dentist would appreciate a patient that sleeps through most of a root canal, yet that old codger's thinly veiled disdain is one of my few clear memories of the experience.  In retrospect, I think he was intentionally careless and rushed through the procedure.

If dental work, especially crowns, weren't so damn expensive, I wouldn't have had to work so many shifts to pay for it, and thus, would not have been tempted to share in the fellowship of the after-work drinking party.  The dental community shares in the blame for my condition that day.

Fast forward 4 or 5 years and one of the teeth started acting up a bit.  The thing with root canal teeth is that they aren't supposed to have any feeling left in them.  The procedure is supposed to remove all living tissue and nerves and fill the canals with an inert material.  Feeling in the tooth is a failure of the procedure - it means the dentist missed something.  Eventually I had a full blown abscess.  I was six months pregnant.  With military dental care.  The only course of 'treatment' was extraction of the tooth and crown that had cost me over $2,000.

Last month I had a second root canal on the remaining tooth.  During the two and a half hour visit, the endodontist found a hole through the root of the tooth and a canal that was missed during the original procedure.  He explained that if too much force is used in the procedure, the tiny files they use go right on through the tooth.  He, obviously, didn't say whether he thought the prior dentist did it, or if he caused it.  He did what he could, but was pessimistic that the issue would resolve.  It did not and this morning I will be at an oral surgeon's office scheduling an extraction, a bone graft and implant.  I can't wait to see what the total bill will be.

I don't remember what a six-pack cost back in the early 1990's, but it will ultimately be the most costly beer buzz I ever had.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Holy shit! I think the endodontist screwed you over. These past two years, I have had all of my fillings replaced. The dentist wants to replace the crown over my root canal tooth but no hurry. I've spent over $3,000 easily rebuilding my smile.

In other news, my dad is an oral surgeon and practices in the north Dallas area off of Forest and 75. He does lots and lots of implants if you're interested I can put you in contact with his office. At least check pricing out ya know?