No Fair

IDentist office‘m going to be spending way too much time in the dentist’s chair in the upcoming weeks.  Last Monday, an upper molar that had been only mildly sore the day before decided it was time to get seriously worse, what with it being the day before a holiday and all.  I found a dentist who took emergencies, who referred me to an specialist for a root canal on at least one tooth, possibly two.  Trust me, that was not how I had been planning to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Things got worse when I got to the specialist’s office, because her exams showed that I did indeed need two root canals, and possibly three, since she could also see some decay under a crown on my bottom molar. Furthermore, I had three small cavities between my teeth that needed to be filled, and I needed a new night guard, as the old one was probably putting too much pressure on some of my teeth.  She was both friendly and professional, but I still got the idea that she thought she was dealing with someone who had never heard of a toothbrush, much less actually used one.

But here’s the thing:  aside from my unfortunate childhood habit of chewing on ice, I actually have good dental hygiene habits.  I go to the dentist every six months, I brush my teeth at least four times a day and floss every night at the minimum.  I’m actually sort of a clean freak (some would say that the words “sort of” need to be removed from that phrase) about everything, including my teeth.  I also wear my night guard faithfully, even after I found my son’s dog hiding under the bed, happily chewing on it.  (I used about a gallon of bleach cleaning it, but I kept using it.)

And I know many people who avoid the dentist like the plague and only use dental floss if they have a bit of popcorn stuck in their teeth and can’t find a tooth pick.  My husband once went five years without a dental check up, and when he finally agreed to sit down in the dentist’s chair, all they found was one tiny cavity.  The rest of his teeth were perfectly fine.  It was not, no matter how you looked at it, the least bit fair.

Which is, of course, the real lesson behind this whole fiasco.  Of course it isn’t fair that someone who tries really hard to take care of her teeth has a set that behave as if they were purchased from the bargain rack at the local discount store.  But it isn’t fair when a person who has never smoked gets lung cancer, or a person who has worked hard their whole life loses their job just because the economy tanked, either.

We live in a world where bad stuff happens to good people, and good stuff sometimes happens to those who don’t begin to deserve it.  It isn’t fair at all.  But that’s life.  It’s random and impossible to predict in so many ways.  I can get in a snit about my situation and complain to whoever will listen (which I admit is often my go-to response), or I can just accept what’s happened and move on.  Because I know that just because life can be unfair doesn’t mean it can’t also be good, more often than not.

I can’t always control what happens to me, whether good or bad.  But I can control how I react to it, and I can choose to focus on the good.  So I’ll put on my big-girl panties and get the dental work done, bearing in mind that it will be over eventually.  And meanwhile, I’m going to remember to be very, very, thankful to whoever invented Novocaine.

70 thoughts on “No Fair

  1. My childhood dentist was a horse doctor (at least I was convinced of that). My mother had to drag me screaming to an appointment. As a result dental hygiene suffered and I had my 1st dentures at age 17. My dentist today is absolutely painless. He’s 60 years too late. Good luck and do “OMs” in the chair.

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    • Oh, I’m so sorry you had to go through that! My first dentist was my grandfather, who was very gentle. But then I had several cavities filled by one who wasn’t so gentle, and have been nervous of dentist ever since. I’m going to try the “oms…” Thanks, Larry!

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    • Thank you! I’ve already had the first root canal, and it wasn’t that bad. Mostly, my jaw was sore afterwards from being propped open so long, because I also have a bad jaw. Here’s hoping the second one goes well, and I don’t have to have a third!

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  2. Ugh, I hate the dentist (who doesn’t?). I am faithful too, but seem to have receding gum lines (I floss the wrong way I’m told??) and other issues. I need a guard, because I clench my teeth. I’ve never gotten one because I sleep so poorly as it is, I always figured having something in my mouth would only add to my night time woes. What is it like?

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    • I am a light sleeper, too, and actually the mouth piece helped. It takes away the worry of night grinding, so you can just relax and go to sleep. But remember if you get an early morning phone call to pop it out before you try to talk, because it does make you slur your speech as though you’re drunk. If you can, have one made and see how it goes. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! (And if it bothers you at all, take it back and have them adjust it. They can do that. Just don’t let a dog chew on it…..)

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  3. Oh thank goodness for novocaine. I’ve had two root canals. Not fair, but you are right – it could be so much worse – and life isn’t fair – it’s all in how we look at it. Dentist are so good these days – and you likely won’t feel a thing. Lucky hubby you have!!! And not just for his teeth! wink wink! ❤

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    • My father always used to tell me, “Life isn’t fair.” I thought he was being mean, but turns out he was just being honest. And I agree that root canals, etc., aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be, because the dentists are so specialized and know so much more about pain management. As for my hubby….thank you! I’m gong to remind him he’s lucky, in case he has forgotten! LOL!!

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  4. I can relate to this and agree it is not fair. Thank goodness for novocaine! Root canals are almost a joy after that throbbing pain. I wish you the best and I know you will feel better soon! I, like you, have clean freak dental habits and just had a root canal last week. While waiting for my next appointment, the temp filling fell out today and broke a piece of the tooth off. Lol! We just roll with it 🙂

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    • Oh, you poor thing! Did it hurt, or were you okay because the nerves were removed and/or sealed off? (I’m still a bit foggy on what a root canal actually does.) But I’m so sorry, and hope you are okay! And I agree, life is certainly not fair….

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  5. Root canals and crowns are never fun, but you are right, many things that happen to us are random, so it’s best to move on as quickly as possible, but not without a little sympathy first! Hang in there – I’ve had a lot of dental work done so I can relate!

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    • I don’t think any of us like sitting in that dental chair, especially when they fire up the drill. But it’s never quite as bad as we imagine, and yes, moving on is the best way. Thanks for your kind words of support, they help a lot!

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  6. Urgh, my dental woes are too long to relate even humorously so I’ll just say, I sympathise and empathise and, yes…. there’s usually a spark of light even amongst all the woes. Hope your treatments go well, I’m sure they will.

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  7. I’m so sorry you have to go through this – both the discomfort and the pain in the wallet. I am lucky to have wonderful teeth. I think I have two cavities. It drives my husband nuts since he is struggling with his teeth all the time. My dentist says that I have “good saliva.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m going with it.

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    • You know, I’ve heard that dry mouth contributes to dental issues, and I think I have that. So maybe that’s what your dentist meant? At any rate, I can relate to your husband, and also wish I was more like you. But everyone has a cross to bear, and bad teeth is just mine. I’ll get through this! And thanks for your kind words!

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  8. I, like Larry, have found the perfect solution to such owes .. prayers and thoughts are with you in this time of troubles … would like to leave a smiley but don’t want to brag about my sparkling painless teeth ..

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  9. I cannot be numbed with Novocain and my dentist hates me. It is mutual. I would just have to take a bullet if I were you. Alas, you have Novocain as your friend. Godspeed!

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    • Oh, you poor thing! I don’t think I would have the nerve to have any work done without Novocaine, although my mother-in-law also couldn’t tolerate it and she said she had a root canal without it. She said it was painful but not too bad. I think she must have had a fairly high pain tolerance. Thanks for the good wishes!

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  10. Bargain rack made me laugh. But, man, I feel for you. Dentists=yuck for me. I’ve had way too much dental work done to ever want to step foot in an office again! Ha. At least they found them before they all got unbearable, I guess. Fingers crossed that it all goes smoothly and recovery is quick!

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    • Yes, I’m quite sure my teeth were K-Mart blue light specials. I’ve actually already had the first root canal, and it wasn’t too bad. The most pain afterwards was from my jaw, which I strained having propped open for so long while being so tense that I’m lucky I didn’t sprain something. Here’s hoping the next one is okay, and no need for a third!

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      • Look at you! So brave! Yay for one being done and 3rd not needed! Kmart Blue light Specials are hilarious. I’ve never met anyone with teeth as troublesome as mine! Ha.

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  11. I hear you Ann! I take reasonably good care of my teeth but have atrocious dietary habits, and the dental history to support it. My wife on the other hand, is concerned she might be getting her first cavity sometime soon…

    I’d like to think that the world has a certain number of fillings/root canals to pass around, and I guess, we just have to take one (or 6) for the team.

    And for all the complaining I do about Romania, dental care here is very accessible and extremely cheap. (Imagine a well-fitted crown, with imaging, costing about $275)

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    • Yes, the one time I get more than my fair share of something, and it has to be invasive dental work…. And why do people with bad teeth manage to marry those who have teeth that are immune to all problems? Maybe to balance each other out?
      I can’t believe you can have a crown for only $275! I’m going to have to look into the cost of flights to Romania!

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  12. Ugh. Not one, but three? Plus other accessories? That’s kinda cruel, especially since you are a dedicated flosser.

    I haven’t found a new dentist yet, up here in our new town. There are plenty to choose from, it’s not a question of a shortage of service. It’s a question of me not wearing MY big-girl panties. I’ve had crap teeth from the get go, I have less than stellar dental hygiene habits, and I have a high tolerance for pain.

    Maybe I’ll take this post as a sign I better grow up and deal with it!

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    • Yeah, I thought it was a bit cruel, too. I’m hoping it’s just two, but with the way my luck has been running, I’m not counting on it!
      If it makes you feel better, I’ve had the first root canal already and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. They have come a long way with dentistry and pain control, and that helps a lot. So I hope you get up the nerve to go and get it taken care of, but if you don’t, I have to say I understand that too!

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  13. I have met people that have never had a cavity. I think it is in the genes. I had to have root canals after having babies, it was not so bad and has been good for over 25 years. I am going through a health issue that is not fair, like you I have been careful and I’m the one to get ill. You just never know.

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  14. Hats off to you Ann for facing into the “teeth of the shark” (sleepy – couldn’t resist the pun). Seriously I hate the dentist! And as you say life is not fair but at least in your case you can hopefully take some satisfaction in the fact that your current dental work is not due to lack of care or laziness. Good luck with the procedures.

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    • Yes, aside from chewing ice (but I was a kid, and by definition, did stupid things), I do take some comfort knowing that I didn’t cause this. It helps not to have to add guilt to the whole thing! And thanks for the kind thoughts.

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      • About twenty years ago I had not been to the dentist in about 10 years. Thats how much I hate the dentist. I hadn’t had a physical exam in almost as many years as well. Holly and I were out at a fancy restaurant for our 15th anniversary and over champagne she pulls out a card. I open it and inside are two appointment cards – one for the dentist and one for the doctor. Inside this tender card she had written, “I love you and want you to be around for another 15 years”. Ever since then I’ve gone to the dentist twice per year and have a physical usually every one or two years. We’ll be celebrating 35 years later this year so I guess I’ve exceeded her expectations. 🙂

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        • Good for you for facing down your fears out of love for your wife! Like you, I hate anything to do with medical or dental exams, but there comes a time when we realize our loved ones are counting on us doing the best we can to stay healthy and alive, and just suck it up and do it. Your wife had a wonderful way of reminding you of that!

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  15. I can’t always control what happens to me, whether good or bad. But I can control how I react to it

    Wonderful…but that is not how it works around here.

    GRANDCHILD: Grandma, grandpa is having another mantrum.
    MY WIFE: What’s the problem?
    ME: &^%**$
    MY WIFE: Are you done yelling now?
    ME: Give me another five minutes.
    MY WIFE: Okay, but take it out to the shed.
    ME: Fair enough.

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    • Oh, yeah…sometimes yelling some curse words is the ONLY way to deal with something. I said I get to choose how I react, but I admit that my choices may not always be good ones. Effective, yes; but not necessarily “good.” Thanks for sharing!

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  16. I’ve spent more than my share of time in the chair, but at least I still have my teeth. I’m not sure I ever remember my Dad having real teeth. I guess what’s fair is a relative concept.

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    • Yeah, my grandmother had a full set of dentures, and back in those days, that was rather common. All these procedures are unpleasant, but at least they allow us to keep our teeth! Now I’m just waiting for science to discover a way to eliminate tooth decay altogether.

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  17. Not a fun way to celebrate the 4th! I hope all goes well for you. I love my dentist but he is cutting back on his time in the office so we may have to switch to his son when he retires. Hope he is just as good. Like you I floss and do the best I can. No, life is not fair!

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    • Mine is getting too close to retirement as well, which I hate. I like going to someone I know. But, as we agree, life is not fair! Thanks for the comment!

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  18. point well made. I have quit trying to figure out how things work-I never can anyway. We each have our own journey and what is right for us is what we encounter-Gosh I am so sorry about all that dental work-but how blessed we are that conditions now are better than they were.Your last line sums it up! best wishes!

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  19. Been there too! In fact, it was a $2500 process that lasted 9 months to give birth to my new dental implant. UGH. My husband also only goes when he breaks a tooth or about every 5 years, whichever comes first. NOT FAIR.

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    • Wow, that was both expensive and far too long! Hope the implants were worth it, and that you are okay now. I’ve got one root canal down, and at least one more to go, plus the crowns and fillings. So I’m just trying hard not to think about it too much and remembering that this, too, shall pass…..

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    • Isn’t it odd how we were raised to believe that if we took good care of our teeth, they’d be in good shape for the rest of our lives? Boy did that turn out to be a lie! Still, at least we have the comfort of knowing that our dental woes weren’t caused by our own neglect. And that helps!

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  20. I’m a little late here, Ann but I can feel your pain. I’ve had my share of root canals and like you I go to the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning and brush regularly. My parents sent me to a dentist who just got his license whe I was a kid and I think he practiced on my by giving me fillings I didn’t need. Years later, those fillings cause problems. But as you say, we can only deal with what’s in front of us and how we do it determines out happiness.
    I hope the worst is behind you now or will be soon…;)

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    • I know what you mean! Those old fillings weren’t meant to last forever, and they cause problems down the line!
      I think my fear of dentists came about when I was 12, and we moved away from St. Louis where my dentist was my grandfather, and I had to go to someone new. Plus the town we had moved to when I was 11 didn’t have floradated water. So there I was, one year new to town and at a dentist I didn’t know and he filled about six cavities. Not fun!
      I survived the first two root canals, and have an appointment with my regular dentist (childhood friend, thank God, so I have no problems telling him to stop if it hurts), for a minimum of a filling, a crown, and a new mouth guard. Possibly more, but I’m not thinking too hard about that….Just hoping it’s all over eventually.
      Hope all is well with you, and thanks for the comment!

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