No one ever wants to hear those words, but my dentist uttered them to me a couple of weeks ago. Needless to say, I took his recommendation at face value and believed I indeed needed a root canal. The day I got that news, I might have believed anything. You see, I had sheared off a tooth with a cap on it a week or so earlier and now my pain level was reaching 9.5 on the 10-point pain scale. In addition to some antibiotics, the dentist recommended over-the-counter pain meds. Within a few days, the tooth was feeling better, but was still tender.
The anecdotal evidence I had did not have me looking forward to my early Monday morning destiny with the Endodontist’s chair. I sucked it up and went to the appointment. Soon, I was in the chair and Dr. Paul Carruth introduced himself. My first question to him was, “Are you old enough to be a dentist?” My second question was, “Do you awake on Monday mornings and say, God, I’ve got to go do root canals today?” He replied that he was old enough and he does not dread performing his job. I was relieved.
The first step was to confirm my dentist’s diagnosis. This is done through x-rays and by the highly scientific procedure of tapping a blunt instrument on the suspect tooth and others near it. Diagnosis confirmed, he then numbed half of my lower jaw and what seemed like the whole side of my face.
Before long, Dr. Carruth’s assistant was providing me with a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones with an iPod loaded with a variety of music for my listening pleasure and distraction from the work to be done. I declined their iPod, and instead plugged in my iPhone and thought for a few minutes about full random play, or perhaps a single artist to get me through. For some reason, Lyle Lovett and his Large Band came to mind. Checking the metadata, I had 38 songs from Lovett that could play for more than two hours – that would easily get me through the one-hour procedure. Let’s go.
The doctor explained the procedure and the dental dam that would keep my mouth protected from the junk that would be ground and washed from my “damn” tooth! Before you know it, the procedure was over. I’m not clambering to go back and have another one, but this one was not nearly as bad as the horror stories I had heard. I’m sure advancements in dentistry are partially responsible for a more comfortable experience, but think my positive experience was mostly due to the skills and attention to detail by Dr. Carruth.
A few days later, I received an e-mail letter from the doctor telling me what a “wonderful” patient I was. Me? A wonderful patient? HA! Okay, I’ll take it, thanks. With that, I’m answering him back by blog, that he far exceeded my expectations! Even so, I’m sorry Dr. Carruth, but I hope I never see you in your office again, but should I need your services, I will be back in a heartbeat and I’ll probably be feeling that heartbeat in a throbbing tooth.
What time is it when you should go to the dentist? Tooth-hurty!