Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Salute to a caring dentist

I've had a tooth that's been bothering me for a few weeks. Yesterday it really started throbbing. I've been rinsing my mouth every few hours with a salt brine. I even dried the area around the tooth with a cotton swab and used a cotton swab to apply some tea tree oil (Melaleuca) on the gums around the tooth. I made sure I didn't swallow any of the oil. I let it sit for a few minutes and would spit out any saliva. I also started taking about 4 Advil (Ibuprofen) every 5-6 hours.

Two weeks ago, this knocked out the pain in the tooth, but it doesn't seem to be working this time. I was up all night with the tooth hurting.

I don't have much money and the local dentists wanted $200 and up to extract the tooth, more for a filling.

There is a low-income dentist in the area, but they are only open a couple days each month. Finally today they were open and I was able to see the dentist. He gave me two choices - be sent to someone else for a root canal and crown ($1200 minimum) or he could extract it. Well I can't afford $200, much less $1200, so with tears in my eyes, I said I guess he'd have to pull it.
I was upset not only because of the loss of the tooth, but my teeth are crooked and so I only chew with certain teeth. And you guessed it, the tooth hurting is the tooth I use most when I chew.

He patted my shoulder and said he was sorry, but that it was better for me to be healthy than to have that tooth. It's an upper molar, and the chances of it causing a fast developing infection in my sinuses are very good. The dentist went ahead and had an xray made, and while it was developing, took care of another patient.

While he was busy, I got to thinking. I had had another tooth that started bothering me like this one was. She filled it and gave me an antibiotic. It worked and that tooth hasn't bothered me since. So when this dentist returned, I told him I had a proposition. He said to give him any excuse and he'd take it. He hated extracting teeth. So I told him what had been done before and asked him about doing that. He looked at the xray. There was no cavity on the tooth and he couldn't see any infection - doesn't mean it wasn't infected, just that it wasn't showing up on the xray yet.

So long story short, he ground down the tooth some so that it wasn't touching and put me on antibiotics. I hate taking them, but it beats the alternative. And he ground down the tooth so that it wasn't taking all the pressure of my chewing. He said it was like jumping up and down and landing on just one toe. Over time, it's bound to cause a bruise. He then told me that by Thur the antibiotic will have done all that it was going to do. If by then it wasn't totally calm, to make SURE I came back in and that he'd be back next Tue. He also reminded me that if the xray had shown an infection, he would have pulled it and not tried to treat it.

So thank you Dr. Thomas Carroll for listening to a patient's idea, for treating me with respect and caring that I was upset about the potential loss of a tooth. He balanced the need to protect my health with my need to keep a tooth. I appreciate that!

Keep my tooth in your prayers, that the antibiotic will heal any infection and that removing some of the pressure on it will let it settle back down and not hurt anymore.

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