Thursday, February 7, 2008

A crown, a crown, my kingdom for a crown!

So I had my first crown done on Tuesday. When I got there for my appointment, the dentist was like, "I see some shadows on your x-rays between the tooth we're doing and I think we should just go ahead and fill those while we're working on that tooth." Okay, sounds good to me. The crown was to replace a huge filling in my second to last molar on the bottom left side of my mouth. He thought they could save one cuspid (I think he called it) of the four on the tooth and the crown would basically fit over the remaining part of tooth and make a big new tooth.

And I'm sitting there with the numbing stuff on a stick trying to numb the outside of my skin so they can stick a needle through my skin to where it's not numb and make that numb too. Personally, I don't see the benefit of numbing the outside of the gum before you numb the inside, because the inside is where it really hurts when the needle goes in, right? And it did hurt because he put the needle in the juncture of my jaw, and I must say it is rather unpleasant. Then another shot on the outside gum closer to the tooth, and another one on the inside closer to the tooth. We wait a bit and the dentist says, "Your lips starting to feel puffy?" I said "No, I don't feel any numbing in my mouth at all." Which was the cue to have a couple more shots of novocaine.

So as they're drilling, which is always a thrill because you have the little whiny drill and the big clunky drill, and the occasional tooth smoke, the rushing water, the little suction thingie, and four hands working around in my mouth (which, contrary to popular belief, is NOT as big as you may think) I hear the dentist mumbling something about 'bigger than I thought' and 'have to replace it with a..." and etc, and I'm thinking that does not bode well for me.

So they get done drilling out the old filling and drilling out the new cavities and he tells me they're going to have to put a partial crown on the back tooth because the cavity was bigger than he'd thought but the other one would be a regular filling and something about one porcelain tooth, one ceramic tooth, or some such thing. Okay, fake teeth, that's what I'm here for.

Now, at my dentist's office, you get the whole crown done in one sitting. This is because my dentist has this REALLY cool software that I guess costs like $100,000, and you take pictures of the teeth and it makes 3-D images that they can rotate around and see through and everything and they design the new tooth exactly the way they want it and then they hit Save and send it to the little machine that grinds the new tooth out of a piece of porcelain. Pretty awesome, right? Instead of getting a temporary crown and having to go back in two weeks, the way a lot of dentists are still doing it. So I got to watch the little computer program as they looked at the image of my tooth and designed it.

The technician did the small filling and polished it all out while we waited for the partial crown to be carved. By that time my numbing was starting to wear off, so they gave me a couple more shots. NEAT! My mouth now feels like it's about triple its normal size and I'm drooling down the side of my face, but I'll work with it.

Partial crown in and my mouth is starting to ache from having my jaw wide open for so long. They carve the full crown and do some more drilling on my itsy bitsy tooth and now the air from the suction thingie is making my upper molar hurt, so he gives me a little novocaine up there and some more on the bottom and tries to put the crown in but, alas! It does not fit quite right.

So he takes some more pictures of my tooth, because apparently it works better if you take pictures of each tooth individually instead of trying to take two at once, and I watch him build the tooth on the computer and then I wait a while longer while the new tooth is carved and then he pops it in and I have new teeth! Except I have been in the chair for 3 hours with my jaw cracked open, and I gotta tell you, my mouth HURT. Well, okay, my mouth was too numb to hurt, but I could tell it was going to hurt very soon. And it did as the novocaine wore off. In fact, it reminded me less of getting a filling and more of when I had my wisdom teeth removed, except I was asleep for that one and just had the sore jaw after. It also felt as though my gum had been cut up with a razor blade because of the spacer and the dental floss tests.

So my recommendation is this - get a crown if you need it, but don't expect to eat dinner that night.

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