Another day, another dentist

Tomorrow I start my prescription #4 of antibiotics.  Seems the tooth I thought was abscessed is not, but I have an infection in my gum.  The infection started about two years ago when my then 80-year old dentist, whom I fired about 18 months ago, pulled a tooth that I later learned could have been saved by modern dentistry.  At the time Dr Forrest pulled the tooth, I felt he was being excessive, but being female and of the generation that thinks men in white coats are disciples of God, I did not speak up. 

After Dr Forrest pulled the tooth, which he did with bare hands and what felt like a hammer and chisel, I asked him if he was going to give me a prescription for an antibiotic.  He said no, he did not think I needed it.  I of course had the thought I did need it after his Medieval extraction, but said nothing. After all, my vet puts my dogs on antibiotics after they have a tooth extracted.

Within a week, I had an infection in my mouth, and I went to my general practitioner, who put me on ampicillin a mild antibiotic usually prescribed to children that has been around for ages.  I also asked Dr Lessin for a referral for a new dentist, thinking it was time to give up Dr Forrest, the dentist David had before we married and whom I inherited. 

The infection got better from antibiotic #1, but never completely cleared up apparently, hiding in my jaw bone.  At my six-months exam, my new dentist, Dr Levin (who is probably in his 70s but has kept up with his discipline), found that I had an infected tooth, next to the site (or should I say gap) of the earlier tooth removal.  Dr Levin sent me to an endodontist who performed a root canal and then restored the tooth without destroying the cap, a procedure which would have saved tooth #1. 

I still had pain in my jaw after the endodontist did his magic, and I told Dr. Levin who then noticed a black spot on my jaw x-ray. Dr Levin then referred me to an oral surgeon, Dr Corcoran, who after taking x-rays in his office determined I needed to have a Cat scan (x-ray computed tomography). The Cat scan revealed a cyst in my jaw which he removed in May of this year, one and a half years after the botched tooth pulling. Following the surgery, I was placed on antibiotic #2 

Last week, the area in my gum above the healed jaw (bone grew back, no cancer) became inflamed and my jaw and face swelled. I called the oral surgeon, who prescribed antibiotic #3.

The swelling reduced, I visited Dr Levin today, and he says I have an infection in my gum, but the tooth looks fine. He wrote prescription #4 for my infected gum and recommended that I see Dr Corcoran, the oral surgeon again.

Friday, I see Dr Corcoran after starting the new antibiotic tomorrow.

The moral of this story for me is this:

1. Dentistry and medicine have advanced so much you might want to ‘hire’ a newer dentist or doctor, or make sure in the case of your dentist or doctor he refers you to specialists.

2. If your dentist wants to pull a tooth, ask him why, and ask if there are alternative solutions.

3. If you have a tooth pulled, you probably need an antibiotic, especially if your dentist is elderly and does not like to wear gloves.

4.  The abnormality in my white blood cells that has led me to see an oncologist for over one year may be owing to the infection in my jaw.

5. You really need to be your own doctor.  We see so many specialists these days, the left hand does not always know what the right hand is doing.  I have most of my doctor visits at one location, a hospital center in our county with many physicians in many different specialties.  This medical facility is FINALLY in the process of organizing patient files on computers that communicate with each other. This facility is a state of the art entity in a large metropolitan area, goodness knows what goes on in less urban areas.

Stay tuned…….

Medieval dentistry (from Wikipedia)

If it doesn’t kill you, you’ll be just fine

Hoping it would get better or go away, I have been nursing what appears to my untrained eye to be yet another abscessed tooth. This is frustrating, because the tooth in question is an eye tooth that looks perfectly normal to me. 

 I first noticed the discomfort in my jaw Friday and by Saturday although the pain had diminished, my face had swelled to the point I looked like an unbalanced chipmunk. 

I called the oral surgeon who removed a cyst from my jaw bone last May, and he called in a prescription for an antibiotic to help me make it through the weekend.  He also suggested I call my regular dentist on Monday. 

I just had my six-month dental checkup in August and I am loathe to call my dentist because:

1. I feel guilty as if somehow it is my fault my beautifully healed (from the surgery in May) mouth has broken down again;

2. I know he will look at the tooth, tell me it is abscessed, and then charge me a fortune. Well actually he won’t charge me, he will send me to the endodontist who will charge me a fortune after he kills the nerve in the tooth and fills it with some new-age substance designed to preserve teeth until long after you have been cremated.  (My youngest son has informed me that I should not arrange for my body to be cremated as teeth do not burn and they have to grind them up.)

3. No one seems to know why cysts occur, but if the infected tooth causes another cyst to develop in my jaw, the dentist will refer me to the oral surgeon for a proper scan because he has better equipment, which will not be ‘good enough’ to see what is going on, and then the oral surgeon will arrange for me to make another trip to the hospital for yet another CAT scan. (And folks wonder why medical costs are rising??) 

My face looks better this morning, or at least as good as it can look these days.  While I was examining my mouth with a magnifying mirror this morning I noticed I am developing a double chin which no doubt the hairs growing on the first chin will somewhat disguise unless I do something drastic soon with hair remover or wax YUCK!!.

The downside of the prescription from the oral surgeon is that antibiotics do a job on my insides.  I currently take two medicines for my stomach, one for Acid Reflux which is exacerbated by the meds I take for other maladies, and the other for a condition which the gastroenterologist informs me is rare in people who have NOT had gall bladder surgery (like me), but which apparently is associated with Barrets syndrome which he thinks is developing in my stomach.  If the side effects of the antibiotics don’t finish me off, I will be fine. 

With these conditions, all of which affect my interest in eating, you would think I would shrivel away to nothing, or at least lose some weight.  Wrong.  My body has an amazing ability to metabolize food and store it as fat in unusual as well as all the usual places.  No matter what I do these days I do not lose weight. Please believe me when I say I do not want to lose weight by getting sick, it is just when I am feeling lousy weird thoughts spring into my mind.

Meieval dentistry (from Wikipedia)

On a positive note, and not to sound too dismal, I must say that I am amazed what modern medicine can do.  When my oral surgeon isn’t attending to me he is working on the faces of  accident victims and wounded veterans undergoing facial reconstruction.  he also deals with women and some men who are fighting the aging process with any means they can including face lifts and other extreme measures.   In addition to dealing with root canals, the endodontist rebuilds teeth that have become dislocated for a variety of reasons. I wish he had been around when I was five-years old and had my teeth shoved in on the dashboard of a pickup truck. 

I suppose if the only trauma I have to contend with in this life is associated with teeth, I cannot complain too much.