Mystery Tooth Pain Solved! Or Why I Almost Performed a DIY Extraction Last Wednesday Night

Since I know how how much everyone cares about the ongoing drama that is the state of my teeth—despite, I feel obligated to add, the obsessive work I put into caring for them (and I mean “obsessive” quite literally)—you’ll be fascinated to read that last Wednesday evening, a few hours after I finished teaching (thank goodness for minor miracles and incredibly long, complex sentences), my cheek started swelling up as the dental pain that had been merely distracting for ten days or so suddenly spiked to “should-I-extract-this-myself?” levels.

I might have, but I couldn’t figure out which tooth was the culprit, I didn’t have access to the proper instruments, and my husband had more foresight than I did. Again, thank goodness for small mercies, and for rational-minded life partners.

A week and a half earlier, I had gone to the dentist to have discomfort in the same area investigated, preparing myself for the news that I needed a root canal. The dentist-on-call poked around, took X-rays, and found nothing amiss. It didn’t help that I couldn’t pinpoint the source of the pain (“one of these four teeth” wasn’t specific enough, apparently). She sent me home, telling me that as far as she could tell, there wasn’t anything wrong, but if it got worse, I should return.

Needless to say, it got worse. By the time I tried to settle in for bed, last Wednesday, post-teaching (once more—thank goodness), I knew that sleep wasn’t going to come easily. It didn’t. The next morning, exhausted and comically puffy-cheeked (“Don’t worry! It just looks you gained a lot of weight, but only in one quarter of your face,” said my husband, trying his best to be reassuring as I ventured out into the world), I went to the dentist and got a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers. I’ll get the offending tooth taken care of tomorrow. Which is a more sinister-sounding way of saying that I have a root canal scheduled.

Moral of this story: every once in a while, my dental paranoia isn’t “paranoia” after all! This isn’t good for the actual dental paranoia that is almost certainly in my future (as my husband pointed out last night, when he was laughing about the fact that in the period between when I went to the dentist the first time and when my face ballooned up, he kept repeating things like, “you have to learn to trust the professionals”; I’m glad that he can find humour in this).

Also, don’t keep pliers near your bedside. At-home tooth extractions never = good idea, no matter how acute your pain, and trust me on this one: dental abscesses do not make you your most logical self.

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