I enjoyed nearly 2 hours of being poked, prodded, and x-rayed by a very friendly and thorough dental student… whose diagnosis is what we already knew: Root Canal Molar needs a root canal – apparently it’s dead but worth keeping around because I can use it to chew – and we don’t know what’s wrong with Endangered Molar. It could also need a root canal – that’s what he suspects – and/or I might need to see a periodontist. I think it’s a bit telling that I feel more confident about his assessment of the situation than my primary dentist’s – mostly because he listened to me and took my concerns and feedback seriously (and had the agreement of his professor). He was even willing to use unconventional means to get the best picture of my molars possible – resulting in the clearest x-ray of that area I’ve ever seen! I especially appreciate that he’s addressing the problems of both teeth.
The x-ray of Endangered Molar looks even more ominous than the one taken 6 weeks ago. There’s a giant dark area that shouldn’t be there. It suggests to me that there is something very seriously wrong with the tooth and its roots, but my responses during the examination suggest that it – unlike Root Canal Molar – is still vital. Quite the enigma. The dental professor said it may be something as simple as a piece of food that got stuck up there and needs to be cleaned out by a periodontist. (Good luck getting a referral…)
Despite my readiness to pull the teeth and get the whole thing over with, I’m going with the dental student’s decision to treat and attempt to save the teeth. He gave a much better argument than “I don’t want to feel guilty.” The last x-ray clearly shows that both affected molars meet the ones below them and are therefore functional for chewing – definitely worth saving. I’m convinced that I’ll be better off receiving treatment for them and not “giving up so easily,” as the dental student put it. If nothing else, having those teeth will help me make a better case for treating the ones below them, should it ever become necessary. I hadn’t thought of that before…
The person in the endodontist department verified that the school was submitting a referral for both teeth to receive root canals, gave me her card, and said, “if you don’t hear from me in four weeks, call me. If you have any problems with your teeth in the meantime, call me and I’ll try to get it expedited.” I liked that she took ownership of the situation and expressed willingness to advocate for me. It was a nice personal touch.
Everyone I interacted with helped me feel like a fellow human whose well-being was important. I’m going to see about changing it so the dental school is my primary dental facility. In addition to having more competent dentists, it’s in a better location for me and has a far more pleasant atmosphere. They even included “transgender” as an option on the patient registration form!
Mom accompanied me and was patient and supportive through the whole process. She seemed more upset than I was about, well, everything. I took it to mean she was concerned about me and that felt good. I treated her to a casual dinner as thanks. It wasn’t an ideal bonding experience, but it gave us time to talk and connect with each other and I found that to be meaningful.
I never thought I’d call a day that involved going to the dentist a good day, but it kinda was. Chew on that…