Monday, February 24, 2014

Yet another crown

I have had more than my fair share of dental work over the years. When I was a small child dentistry in Ireland, and probably everywhere else, was pretty basic. A cavity resulted in either an extraction or a filling, a filling required the entire tooth be hollowed out and the hole filled with a mercury based amalgam. I don't ever remember being told to brush my teeth when I was growing up, and I don't think dental floss had been invented, or if it had, we never heard of it, so the fillings were plentiful. I also never even heard of a dental hygienist until my children where in their teens.

When I was 12 I fell and chipped my front tooth and, as often happens, I eventually developed an abscess on that tooth. It (the tooth) was finally extracted but not before 6 months of painful attempts to drain the abscess, and one attempt to dispose of it by lancing the gum. Following that unpleasant experience I developed two move abscesses over the next few years, these were on back molars and so out they came.

By my early 40s I had a number of crowns and a couple of bridges. All of these had to be replaced by the time I was 50, by then I was living in California and if there is one thing California has, it is good dentistry, so I am hopeful I won't have to have further improvements on those.  I also had all the mercury based fillings replaced with porcelain, no small task.

Since then however, I have had a few more crowns added and a number of root canals. Then there was the crown to crown it all, if you will excuse the pun.  I had the usual Novocaine injection, with the tense wait time for it to do its work, my dentist got started and almost immediately it was clear that the injection didn't do any work at all, long, unpleasant story short, it took a total of 4 injections to get the job done, and that was still with considerable sensitivity right to the bitter end.

That particular crown was followed up almost immediatly by a very unpleasant dental surgery which (and I do now regret not getting photos) required the cutting and peeling back of the gum to expose the root of that same tooth that refused to be numbed, the root was then clipped - to this day I don't quite understand why - I am guessing due to decay in the root, he apparently also did a 'small bone graft' - how can any bone graft be small? All of that surgery was performed under the influence of Valium - me, not the surgeon of course. Nonetheless, it was somewhat traumatic (again for me, not for the surgeon), and when the Novocaine and Valium effects wore off, I was not a happy camper for a while.

So when I discovered that one of those teeth that had been hollowed out many long years ago had started to crumble I headed again to the dentist, knowing full well that it would require a crown, again. I was right. Nervous as I was, I decided this time at the very least it was going to supply me with fodder for my blog. So, I took a photo of the tooth before heading to the dentist. I wish I had a photo of his face when I asked  him to take a photo of the tooth after he had drilled it out, and again after he had built up the 'stump' for the crown. But he entered into the spirit of it, and even told me to smile when he took the photos.

One thing I have got to add to this. This was the first time I had any work done by Dr. McCormick at Leander Dental and I can't tell you how glad I am to have found him. He was probably twice as fast as any other dentist while causing me half the discomfort, less than half. His assistant was also a really efficient and kind person, and every staff member I have interacted with in his office is pleasant and clearly happy in their work, which I think says a lot about Dr. McCormick.

So, here is my photographic record of this, I hope my last, crown:
drilled out tooth (photo taken by Dr McCormick)


crumbling section


Here is an interesting (I think it is interesting) aside, the tooth to the right of the drilled tooth in the second photo is actually the crown that took so many injections and then had a root canal though the crown (hence the ugly filling) and finally ended up with the surgery and 'small bone graft'

Stump ready, felt smaller to the tongue

Temporary crown fitted plus angry look gums




I am afraid there was probably a good photo opportunity between the drilled out tooth and the stump, but I am guessing Dr McCormick was too busy to even think about it, and I was also somewhat distracted.

I left with an appointment to get the permanent crown fitted in two weeks, and instruction on what to do should the temporary crown come loose, fall off, or break.

Two days later I was back getting the temp stuck back on, luckily it didn't break, but it did come loose when I was flossing according to instructions - not pulling down, pulling through - but the space between the crown and the tooth at the back (the same one that caused me so much trauma and pain) was very tight and the floss got jammed.

Finally, two weeks after the initial preparation, I had the permanent crown fitted. There was almost no
adjustments required, it just slotted in perfectly. The photo to the left shows the new crown fitted, and the angry gums are again evident but that won't take long to heal.