False alarm! (19 June 2015)

By CometGlare Friday, June 19, 2015
I have dental x-rays taken once a year, typically in the summer, and last week was the chosen week.  My usual local dentist did the honors.  After an uneventful teeth cleaning and exam ("Wow, those are great margins," he semi-whispered to no one in particular), he looked at the x-rays.  His hygienist pointed him to my #10 tooth, which is the upper lateral incisor that I had so much trouble with in 2013.  (It couldn't hold a crown, so DDS's Dr. Carranza did a root canal and Dr. Prada inserted a metal post. I've already written about how I'm not thrilled with the general idea of root canals.)

Anyway, the dentist and hygienist were in agreement:  The tooth was fractured.  I was pretty distressed, because it had been only two years since the root canal, and because I've been extremely busy lately and didn't want to spend time or money on dental stuff.  As much as I've enjoyed reading about OTHER people's experiences with implants, I wouldn't feel deprived in the slightest at not having one.

Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and sent a semi-frantic email off to Dr. P.  He responded fairly promptly, and asked to see the x-ray.  I was chagrined to admit that I didn't have anything to send him; my local dentist still uses his 30-year-old machine from deep in the pre-digital era.  Dr. Gonzalez (who rarely attends to email) also chimed in and stressed that fractured roots could impair implants because when the body tries to seal off the infection, the underlying bone shrinks.  That makes the implant precarious. Was there pain or swelling?, they wanted to know.  No, just a telltale x-ray.

More worried than ever, I promised to find a dentist with a digital x-ray machine as soon as possible.  Of course, this happened on a Thursday afternoon, which is basically Friday for dentists here in North Carolina since they usually take Fridays off.  After a worrisome weekend, I located a dentist willing to take a pic.  It was taken Tuesday morning (for $44).  An hour later it was on its way to Costa Rica on wings of electrons.  Dr. Prada, Dr. Carranza and Dr. Gonzalez all looked at it and said it looked fine: no sign of fracture or bone shrinkage or anything else.

Whew! What a relief.

I talked with the dentist's office about why they thought it was fractured, since I was curious to know.  Apparently the old x-ray equipment doesn't have the resolution of the new digital ones, and movement might affect how it looks, and...okay.  Not sure what to make of all this, but I now realize that I need to find a local dentist with up-to-date equipment to monitor my teeth.  Once again, I've learned to not take anything for granted regarding dentists.

So that's it.  I thought I'd update you on my latest faux dental adventure.  Now I have to get back to work.


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