Last Friday, I had a tooth pulled. To be more precise, ANOTHER tooth pulled. It was the last tooth in my head that had, as yet, not had any work done on it. From the outside, it looked perfect: no cracks, no decay showing, and only a bit crooked in my mouth from the effects of other shifting teeth. A few days before Friday, I suddenly started having issues with that tooth: it hurt to just put pressure on it with a finger. When eating or drinking, anything hitting that tooth cause some white hot agony in my face. A visit to the dentist showed the tooth was finally joining the crowd and heading down the same path: a root canal, followed by a post and build. That is always now followed by a cracking or shearing of the tooth and/or the resin or both, which necessitates another rebuild, followed by a crown prep, and finally a crown. Since my opening is down to 10mm total, getting a brush in my mouth is an amazing achievement by itself; managing to get the brush around enough to do thorough brushing at the gumline is practically impossible (but I make the effort anyway). In the end, each tooth that has been crowned faces the same destiny: eventually decaying at the gumline and then under the crown to the rest of what was left of the tooth. Since by that point there simply isn’t enough tooth left to build on, I go get the thing pulled.
Now, imagine that you do not have dental insurance and that everything you’re paying for procedures on your teeth are being paid out of your own pocket. Imagine further that every single tooth follows this path, from root canal to crown, with one or more rebuilds in between those two processes. At the end of the day, each tooth could conceivably wind up with $800-$1000 of work sunk into it. For this tooth, I decided to skip to the inevitable end of the story, save myself the pain of going through each phase, and save myself about $700: out it came. The tooth pretty much shattered when the oral surgeon grabbed it to pull it out, which then required him repeatedly lifting the tooth and snipping off another piece, because my jawbone refused to give it up peacefully (which, I think, speaks volumes about the general healthiness of my jaws, given that osteonecrosis – bone death – is a very real concern for people who have had their heads/necks blasted with radiation). Then we got to the root, which would not come out at all. That, my friends, is what the drill is for: to drill away a piece of the bone to allow the extraction of the last piece of the root. And that, of course, then required stitches to sew together the flaps of the soft tissue to stop the bleeding. With some gauze shoved down into the socket, the bleeding slowed and then stopped completely within 45 minutes or so of extraction.
Stitches are annoying, especially in the mouth. If later today was not the day of their removal, it’s likely I would be cutting them out myself, much like dogs and cats will pull theirs out if given the chance.