I realize it’s been a while since my first post about my root canal and people might be searching the web looking for information about what to expect – I certainly did. This post is for you.
It’s been 6 weeks since my root canal was done and I’m happy to report that everything is pretty much back to normal. My gums have healed completely and are looking healthy and pink; the tooth is not painful or loose, though it is a little discolored. However, this is normal according to everything I’ve heard from my endodontist and read on the internet. As far as they can tell from x-rays and examinations the infection at the root is gone. There’s still the slightest bit of tenderness in the area where the infection was; my endodontist told me that it will probably be tender in that spot for a while as my body slowly heals the place where the infection ate away at the bone. She also said that because I’m young, healthy, and my root canal was the result of trauma rather than decay, the bone might grow back to a certain degree within 6 months. Hurray for that! I feel normal and healthy again and have been back to working out hard, eating normally, kissing my partner – no discomfort, no pain, no sickness to speak of. (I actually didn’t get sick once this winter, which is something of a record for me.) The only reason I say “pretty much back to normal” is because I still can’t bite things like sandwiches or any hard bread because the tooth has not yet been restored by my dentist and is therefore still a bit fragile despite the amount of healthy tooth structure I have left.
What happened after my last post: Since I was about to travel overseas when I had to have my emergency root canal and I was very wary of the infection coming back after my course of antibiotics, my endodontist (who was so patient with all of my questions – I called her four times a day everyday while the process was happening) wanted to wait a little bit before permanently filling my tooth. She said she could have filled it before I left as everything looked clean and was progressing well, but she wanted me to have peace of mind on my trip. FYI: Flying with an open tooth isn’t painful. However, I’m a nervous flyer so I took .05mgs of klonopin and three Advil before I got on the plane. I know, I know, that’s pretty much the opposite of natural, but I have panic attacks on planes if I don’t take anything and I’d rather not put my liver through the agony of getting quite drunk in order to fly. This is my alternative until I can get over my phobia.
My swollen and discolored gums and the accompanying facial swelling went down extremely quickly after I began treatment – within a matter of days. This is probably because of the antibiotics and the Medrol, which is an anti-swelling medication with long list of scary side effects, none of which happened to me. The z-pak of azithromycin did its thing and I had no adverse side effects from that either. I drank a glass of kefir yogurt everyday and a ton of water (at least three 16 oz bottles a day) while I was taking the medication, which I think helped.
About a week after I came back from my trip (which was uneventful as far as the tooth goes), the endodontist put the permanent gutta percha filling into the tooth and placed a temporary filling on the back. My dentist will replace this temporary filling with a permanent filling when we restore the tooth. I haven’t had the tooth restored yet because I’m still working on convincing them that I don’t need a crown. Besides the fact that they’re super expensive, I want to be able to monitor the health of the tooth in the long term. That would be pretty difficult to do with a crown over the tooth structure, effectively hiding any outward signs of further decay. The root canal tooth was tender to the touch for about a day after the permanent filling procedure (which was quick and relatively painless), but since then I haven’t felt or seen anything strange or uncomfortable and have been brushing, flossing, and using my Waterpik twice daily as usual.
I went to have my teeth cleaned before I left for my overseas trip (the root canal tooth was unfilled but had a temporary filling on the back and medication in the canal) and received the good news that I have no cavities. My 24 year record remains unbroken! Woo! Hopefully this will be my one and only brush with the endodontist, though I must admit I’m a bit worried – when the endodontist did the cold test on the rest of my front teeth they responded well… With the exception of my other front tooth. The response to the cold stimulant was weak. The endodontist said we should keep an eye on it just in case, but they saw no sign of infection on the x-rays they took. Fingers crossed that something similar doesn’t happen again.
Anyway, just wanted to provide an update for anyone who might be scouring the web for those rare stories of success in the face of all of the scary stories about what went wrong for other people. Granted it’s only been 6 weeks since my procedure; hopefully this will remain a success story in the long-term.