Friday, 5 November 2010

The Tooth Hurts

I had to make an emergency visit to the dentist two days ago. My molar started hurting like crazy last week and even the traditional remedy of whisky and kirsch was of no avail. When I checked, I was shocked to see an enormous cavity on the outer surface close to the base of the tooth. I made an appointment on Friday but the soonest I could get was the coming Wednesday. So I just had to gird my loins and fall back on surreptitious nips of whisky to carry me through (the whole medicinal purposes line just wouldn't wash on my wife. I know her).

The dentist was equally surprised by the size and location of the cavity. According to him it was unlikely that caries was the cause as it would have started hurting a whole lot earlier before reaching the present size, and also due to the unusual position of the cavity. His opinion was that I must have incurred some mechanical damage to the tooth which chipped off the enamel layer resulting in rapid decay of the underlying layers. Unfortunately there was no way of saving the tooth as the decay had reached the base where the tooth branches off into the two roots and any further drilling would only end up splitting it. So I agreed to an extraction and he proceeded to inject a local anesthetic which took about 5-10 minutes to work (the whole thing took less than 30 minutes) . He then drilled out the old amalgam fillings and then started cracking the tooth in two using a pair of pliers. It was weird because I could feel everything that was going on and even hear the cracking, grinding sounds of the tooth disintegrating. As I said, it was quick and surprisingly pain-free and now I have a gap where the tooth used to be :-(

The dentist recommended an implant which would cost around SFr 4-5,000(!). I have 3-6 months to decide after which the gradual erosion of bone in the jaw underlying the gap will bring the bone level too close to a major nerve and there won't be sufficient depth to securely screw in an implant. I figure if I have 5000 Francs to burn, I'd rather spend it on a Stratocaster :-)

Anyway I'd advise those with weak stomachs to skip the rest of this post.

The cavity was right dead-centre on the molar at the branching point of the root. Somehow I never noticed it until it began hurting!

The tooth was split in two to aid extraction. You can see how large the cavity was.


  1. Wow. Good thing you went through that fast. There is absolutely no point at all in letting that kind of thing settle and simmer some more in an increasingly wrenching structure of teeth. These pictures should encourage, not just upset, those who read this blog. It'll be for their own good.

    Ervin @ Alpenglow

  2. Well, this should serve as a fine reminder how to go about this kind of tooth business, in case a pain like this hits again. These notes and details are fine, for they can be further cross-examined, and reveal new insights about the condition, while capping this vigilance off with the good ol' dental checkup.

    Dr. Kent Davis