Surprise! You Need A Root Canal.
Growing up, my brother and I were never afraid of the dentist. (I have my mother to thank for this – we inherited naturally strong teeth and healthy gums from the Trinidadian side of the family.) Unfortunately I had a pretty severe facial injury three years ago that caused most of my front top teeth to be pushed back in my mouth several centimeters. (I was riding a bike and didn’t put my hands out fast enough when I went over the handlebars. Ouch.) After the accident I couldn’t close my mouth properly because the top front teeth had been pushed back far enough that they were hitting my bottom front teeth when I tried to close my lips. I underwent lingual brace therapy that brought the teeth back into a more normal position.
The lingual braces tear up the inside of your mouth and you’re in pretty constant pain since they adjust them quite frequently. After 7 months I couldn’t stand it anymore and had my orthodontist remove the braces before he advised doing so. My bite is slightly misaligned as a result but it doesn’t bother me on a regular basis. Since then I use a Waterpik twice a day, brush twice a day with a peppermint/baking soda/fluoride-based toothpaste from Trader Joe’s and a soft brush; and use Listerine mouthwash twice a day. (I’m in the middle of converting everything I use to natural alternatives and I still have a ways to go, as you can see. I’ve also heard of the evils of fluoride but currently can’t afford more toothpaste.) In the last few years I’ve developed a problem with grinding my teeth at night (probably a result of my misaligned bite), which hasn’t bothered me much – until now.
Initially I thought the pain I was experiencing was due to my grinding habit. (That makes it sound like I stand around in nightclubs looking for victims, doesn’t it?) The pain began as a dull ache on Saturday morning when I woke up, then got progressively more painful until I woke up early on Monday morning and my lip and cheek had swelled up. I immediately went to the endodontist and they did a root canal within the hour. (I don’t care what the internet tells you – if you present with an infection, that sucker is going to hurt. I had to have four excruciatingly painful numbing shots in my inflamed gums before they could get in there to perform the root canal, and even then I still felt occasional sharp twinges of pain as they worked. And I have to go back in a few days to finish it. At least they were super-nice to me.)
That was yesterday morning. Today I had to go back into the office because I had developed a hard lump where the top lip connects to the gum line, just over the tooth where my root canal had been performed. The endodontist drained it – it was full of pus and blood and other nastiness – and now we’re leaving the temporary filling off overnight to allow the infection to drain further. I’m going back into the office tomorrow to check on how it’s doing and see if they can replace the filling at that time. I’ve been swishing Trader Joe’s sea salt and warm filtered water around in my mouth every few minutes since I got home from the office. No painkillers necessary today so far; I took what was a frankly unhealthy amount of ibuprofen yesterday and want to hold off torturing my liver further until it becomes absolutely necessary. Today I’ve just sipped some fresh homemade ginger root tea with cinnamon, had half a glass of kefir yogurt (no other probiotics in the house at the moment and I want to do something to counter the negative gut effects of the azithromycin they put me on), and eaten some organic broccoli florets and baby carrots with sea salt.
Since you, like me, may have seen this around the internet: I asked them about the infection spreading because I may accidentally swallow some of the drainage as we wait for the tooth to drain. They said that wasn’t going to happen. Same answer when I asked about potential further bone loss resulting from the formation of the cyst. (This I take more at face value as the fluid-filled sac was there for less than 24 hours, but I still have my doubts about their belief about the infection spreading, so I’ve been swallowing as little as possible since I left the office, choosing instead to swill with salt water and spit every few minutes. I suggested that we might want to extract the tooth to avoid later complications since I’ve also read that that’s more effective at preventing widespread complications down the line, but they scoffed at me.) I know I worried when I read those things on the internet before I went back, which leads me to my next point…
Since I first got the root canal done I’ve been scaring myself silly looking up root canal complications on the internet, as I’m sure many people do when they’re confronted with a health problem and are ignorant of potential complications. Apparently the consensus is that root canals are pretty much the worst thing you can do for your teeth, which makes me wish I had access to this information before I began mine; it’s too late to turn back now for me, so I’ll just have to make the best of it. I’m hoping the fact that I inherited healthy teeth and the fact that I’m young, exercise regularly, and follow a relatively healthy diet (grass-fed, pasture-raised meats; full fat milk and cheese*; green veggies; very little sugar, grain, and processed food intake except for the occasional drink when out with friends; and an almost obscene amount of water everyday) will all play in my favor.
Despite the torrent of doom and gloom I’ve traipsed through on dental forums in the last few days, I have found a couple of resources that have given me hope: Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel and Oil Pulling: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing by naturopath Bruce Fife. I’ve bought both books on my Kindle ($2.99 each! I love Kindle.) and have been perusing them all evening.
Anyone have any experience with these techniques working? I know Heather from arealfoodlover.wordpress.com had great success diminishing her cavities and remineralizing her teeth using Nagel’s method, and I aim to follow in her footsteps.
I’m particularly interested in whether I can oil pull while my tooth is open and draining or whether that’s a bad idea. I did some oil pulling this morning with coconut oil and two drops of peppermint essential oil and my mouth felt great afterward (this was before they removed my temporary filling to let the pus drain out), but I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to do it when I have an open tooth.
I’m a big fan of not polluting the body with unnecessary chemicals and junk as well as a big believer in natural healing, so I’m hoping that after this torture is over I can attempt to heal my body and teeth using some of techniques suggested by Nagel and Fife and avoid ever having another root canal again.
Any thoughts? I’m open to any and all suggestions.
*I’m looking into getting raw milks and cheeses from local farms around the area, especially after reading Nagel’s work; any suggestions are welcome if you happen to know someone who does quality work!