• Who says that all the adventure and intrigue have vanished from life by the time you’re middle-aged?  Balderdash! As long as you have teeth in your mouth, there’s plenty of potential for suspense and mayhem.

    My own Dental Adventure began innocently enough. I was processing books at the library where I work while cheerfully chomping on a delicious piece of vanilla taffy, when I suddenly felt an odd sensation inside my mouth. I couldn’t identify what it was…but I knew that something dental had just gone wrong.

    Little did I know that one of my crowns was coming loose!

    (Cue the dramatic “all hell is about to break loose” soundtrack.)

    A few more bites and the crown detached entirely. Luckily, I was able to spit it out before it “went south.”

    My pal Sara wasn’t so fortunate. When her crown came off, she swallowed it, after which her dentist instructed her to, euphemistically, “wait for it to come out the other end.” This meant buying a batch of latex gloves and prospecting through her own waste until she finally found the “buried treasure“ several days later, a little project that enchanted her 5 year old son, as it combined two of the things that he, as a little boy, adored most —  his mother and poop.

    After I rescued my own crown, my dentist futzed with it a little, then popped it right back on. Easy peasy. A walk in the park! A piece of cake! (which is what I should have been eating that day instead of taffy.)

    But there was a problem. Mysteriously, the tooth, which had previously given me no trouble, began to ache. It hurt when I chewed. It hurt when I wasn’t chewing. When my achey-breaky tooth started waking me up at night, I returned to my dentist.

    An X-ray revealed that decay had been festering away under the crown.

    (Cue the “an awful surprise is suddenly revealed” music.)

    This, concluded Dr. Drucker, was the cause of the pain.

    The only solution? Root canal!

    My mother had endured a number of  root canals when I was a child, the  incredible agony of which she kvetched about so vociferously that, to me, the words “root canal” were synonymous with “unimaginable torture.“

    “Things have changed since then,“ my dentist assured me.

    Maybe so, but root canal was no picnic. Mine required several two-hour sessions. And, unlike my dentist, who checks in with me frequently when he works on my teeth to make sure I‘m okay and explain what he’s up to, my endodontist, once she’d numbed my mouth and set to work, ignored me completely.

    Lying there helplessly as she and her assistants chattered away about their upcoming holiday plans (it was December), I felt as if I were a  dining room table at which folks were enjoying a delightful, festive meal. (It even made me miss my childhood orthodontist, who used to wait till my mouth was crammed with dental instruments, then start telling me jokes. I almost choked to death, but at least he wasn’t ignoring me.)

    Not only that, but the office Muzak played Christmas music the entire time. For a Jew like myself, four solid hours of Good King Wenceslas, O Holy Night and Pa rumpa pum pum would be torture, even without an accompanying root canal.

    I felt helpless, ignored, numb, peculiar and miserable.

    “But it’s worth it,“ I told myself, “If it  makes the pain go away.

    It didn’t.

    Weeks after the procedure, my tooth continued to ache. Why?

    “Sometimes, mysteriously, it just does,” said my endodontist, who assured me that she’d done a terrific job. My dentist, after checking the x-rays,  confirmed that it was a hell of a root canal.  “Top notch!” he enthused.

    But my tooth still hurt!

    Was this just one more thing I had to absorb with age,  like my iffy eyesight, my ringing ears, and the leg muscle that aches whenever I walk too much? Or — if I ignore this pain, would it spread and cause ALL of my teeth to ache?

    Should I get a second opinion? See another endodontist? Consult a psychic? A psychiatrist? Talk about suspense! This was a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot AND Miss Marple, all rolled into one BBC blockbuster:

    Masterpiece Mystery Presents: “Roz’s Dental Disaster!“ — a new four-part miniseries. Then, thankfully, the pain began to subside.

    Now, a year later, my tooth has stopped hurting entirely. Why? Well, why not? When I was little, my grandparents often stayed at our house to baby sit when my parents were traveling. At night, grandpa’s teeth lived in a glass of water on the bathroom counter, which both fascinated and delighted me. Dentures! What a great idea! As a kid with lots of cavities who’d endured plenty of drilling, the idea of teeth you could remove and take care of outside your mouth was enormously appealing. “I can’t wait to grow up and have dentures!” I told my mom “Be careful what you wish for,” she replied.

    Rosalind Warren aka Roz Warren

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    Article by: Roz Warren

    Roz Warren (www.Rosalindwarren.com) writes for the Funny Times, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward, Reader’s Digest and the Huffington Post. And she’s been on both the Today Show and Morning Edition. Roz is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR, which collects her most popular essays about library work.

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    1. phoebe says:

      When I had repetitive stress syndrome a specialist told me that sometimes pain develops a life of its own–it keeps going without having a root cause (I didn’t intend this to come out as a pun, but it did!)

    2. zestnow says:

      POSTED NOVEMBER 04, 2014
      This is great! Although it doesn’t give me a lot to look forward to!
      by KELLY

      POSTED OCTOBER 30, 2014
      We are traveling in South Africa and just spent 3 days with a lovely English family. Their 18 year old daughter wants to be a dentist. This makes me worry about her judgment even though she seemed like a very nice person.

      by SUZANNE FLUHR
      POSTED OCTOBER 29, 2014
      Ah, yes. The dentist who did my first root canal introduced me to one of the most magical things on the planet: Vicodin! No pain ever…

      by DOROTHY PUGH
      POSTED OCTOBER 29, 2014
      Wonderful!

      by MISTER WONDERFUL
      POSTED OCTOBER 28, 2014
      I just finished FIVE appointments with the dentist with my first, and impossible, crown. This was a hard post to read because I hate going to the dentist. I’d rather go to the gyno, and even that I’m not keen on!

      by CATHY
      POSTED OCTOBER 28, 2014
      Oy. I had a similar root canal experience a few years ago and still haven’t recovered from the stress. And my teeth still ache.

      by HELENE COHEN BLUDMAN
      POSTED OCTOBER 28, 2014
      Just the idea of a dental adventure makes me cringe and break out in a sweat. I love my dentist – but totally hate going to him.

      by LOIS ALTER MARK
      POSTED OCTOBER 28, 2014
      Dental stories make me physically ache. I know people who have had good dental experiences but not in my house!!! Shaking off that creepy feeling now!!

      by RUTH CURRAN
      POSTED OCTOBER 28, 2014
      I can commiserate with you. Just had the same thing happen only on both sides of my mouth. Had to have two root canals. Not fun and pretty painful. The one side was painful afterwards too. I wish I had a tooth fairy who could just make my mouth pretty. Glad your pain has subsided.

      by JUDY FREEDMAN
      POSTED OCTOBER 28, 2014
      Gah! I lost a crown when eating vanilla taffy, too! The taffy was a gift from my daughter. The only other time I had such tooth trouble was when a tooth cracked (and a root canal followed) when I bit into a peppercorn while eating dinner with my husband at a fancy restaurant — an anniversary gift from another daughter.

      Best course of action, it seems, would be for me to not accept food gifts from my daughters!

      by LISA @ GRANDMA’S BRIEFS

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