Last Saturday, I was annoyed. My gums were irritated and my tongue kept probing the area before I realized what I was doing. I dismissed it, hoping it would go away, when a few hours later I was unable to put any pressure on a bunch of molars near the incisors. It was pretty bad and I knew I had an infection.
Before I turned 23 and my insurance cut off dental work at that age, I had my teeth taken care of and several root canals done to take care of some pretty pesky infections. It can take up to 4-5 years for an infection like that to be gone for good, so I experience infections regularly. They tend to go away by themselves in a few days without damage or too much pain. Not this one though.
Sunday rolled around and my face began to swell up. Surprisingly the pain had worn off on the teeth themselves and migrated towards the soft tissue around my cheekbone. This was new, I’d had some minor tissue swelling from pus build-up in the past, but nothing that actually showed on the outside. I trudged through the day feeling miserable, taking ibuprofen and paracetamol to combat the swelling. As the evening rolled around I had a fever and felt nauseated to hell and back. Sleep was non-existent, I just snoozed a little bit and then woke up rudely within the hour. A few hours after midnight I felt so sick, I grabbed a bucket, sat down on my chair and emptied my stomach’s contents. (I make it a point to never vomit hunched over a toilet or sink again, it screws up my back so badly! Sitting down with a bucket is much lower impact.)
I tried to go back to bed and dozed off every now and then, but I woke up and checked every hour what time it was. I wanted it to be 8am, I wanted to call a dentist on that Monday morning and get it taken care of. Around 5am I had a 39.2C/102.6F fever and I was shaking and crying. It wasn’t even the pain anymore that did it, my face just felt like a balloon and I was utterly miserable. I think I went through a hypo as well because I mistook the dizziness and shaking as side-effects from the fever and nausea, my fasting bloodsugar was 10 and my dinner was not only not carb heavy enough for that, I also threw most of it back up. I missed the other warning signals of a hypo thanks to feeling so ill and my liver compensated with a high glucose output.
In short, I was a mess. I ended up calling the dentist across the street only to be told that nobody was going to be in that day, as they would be open for some of the holidays and that meant they were closed on the regular days. I was forwarded to another dental clinic, which was also closed. I was furious and distraught. I Googled other dentists in the area and found one that is only 2 streets away from where my parents live. I called and hallelujah, they were open!
I registered as a new patient, explained what was going on and they could see me at 11:30 that morning. When I got there the assistant was incredibly friendly and explained to me what we were going to do. I filled out some forms, and then the dentist could see me. She’s this petite, very short young foreign lady who just barely reaches my chest. (Keep in mind, I’m 6’1″, so I’m not exactly a short lady myself.) She checked me out, they took x-rays and concluded that there was a very big cavity in one molar that had caused the infection. She prescribed me antibiotics (amoxicillin) and ibuprofen sachets, then explained I had two options.
One, I get the cheapest option which is a tooth extraction for €40. Two, I go for the €475 option and get a root canal done. The swelling and infection needed to go down first however, so I had time to think it over before I went back to see her on Thursday. I contacted my administrator and asked him which option we could afford. I really want to keep my teeth for as long as possible, but I was also prepared to go with an extraction if there’s no other way. Thankfully we settled on a root canal with a payment plan to spread it out over 8 months!
By Tuesday, my face had swollen up so badly I looked like a melted zombie. It was hilarious and weird! I didn’t hurt too much so it made dealing with it much easier. At some point my gums couldn’t handle the pressure anymore and began to ooze pus. It was really really gross but such a relief that I tried to help it along by pushing and massaging as much as possible out of me. I felt a little sore afterwards but man did that make a difference in the swelling! My gums have been consistently oozing little bits since that day, which is good even if it gives me dragon ass breath.
This morning I went back to the dentist to get started on the procedure. She started with a local injection to numb the area, which was the worst pain for the entire procedure solely because she had to jab right into the severely infected tissue. Once that was over she drilled open the tooth. The top of the root was done for and didn’t hurt at all, but there was still a bit of root in the lower area of the canals that hurt. She helped with an extra shot and from there on it was smooth sailings. All of the root tissue was removed from the tooth, the tooth got rinsed with disinfectant and she put medicine inside before placing a temporary filling. Step 1 of 2 done! I was drooling a little bit afterwards because half my face was numb, but at least we got that taken care of.
Due to the size of the infection, she wants to wait 2 weeks for it to clear and the medicine to do its job inside the tooth. I’m finishing my antibiotics treatment all the way and hopefully the swelling is gone by Sunday. It’s getting better by the hour. 🙂 If I get sudden increase in pain or swelling again, I have to go back so they can rinse out the tooth and refill it to avoid further complications. Then 2 weeks from now we’re finishing up the root canal as per usual with a permanent filling.
Needless to say, I haven’t been very productive in this period. My knitting has gone on complete hold because it’s been impossible to focus on and I’m exhausted all the damn time. Tooth infections are no joke!