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Root Number Four Lives!

Thursday, March 2, 2000

Talk about missed blessings: This was the day when the Mystery of the initial Tooth Incident finally cleared up. It was also the day where a New Tooth Incident reared its ugly head.

After Dr. König had cleaned out the roots out of tooth number 17 (last upper right-hand molar) on the previous Friday, my jaw hurt rather badly. I was glad to have the Dolomo, even though I stopped taking it after Saturday. The tooth calmed down considerably. The pain in the gums stopped, but the tooth continued to be somewhat sensitive to hot and cold. Occasionally, slight pain would surface, but nowhere near previous levels. I could bite down on the right side of my jaw again, which I had been unable to do since August, 1999.

Dr. König asked how I was doing and I told him: Better, but not good. He knocked against the supposedly dead tooth with a some metal pliers of his and it hurt. He frowned and opened the tooth, removed the gauze and took a look inside.

My mouth smelled strangely -- possibly from the medicine he'd filled the tooth with. Then, he sprayed something into my mouth, which felt like acid -- it was H2O2, used for drying up the mouth. A bit much, apparently.

I winced as he poked inside the empty root canals. One was bleeding, he said. He stuck one of his little metal sticks into that canal and I yelped in pain.

"That couldn't have hurt", he stated, somewhat puzzled.

With a mixture of anger and amusement, I stared at him: "I am neither a lay actor out to impress you and I've not been hired by a colleague of yours to terrify your out of your profession. Yes, that really hurt. Understand?"

He stared intently into my mouth and then proceeded to anesthetize my upper right-hand jaw. As we waited for the injection to have its intended effect, he pulled out an x-ray of the tooth in question and showed it to me.

Apparently, some very big molars have four nerve canals. Most have three; four are highly unusual. The x-ray, however, only showed three nerves. He drew a schematic onto the paper which covered the instrument table.

It was not altogether impossible that I had a fourth root passage in that tooth, possibly exactly behind one of the major roots and thus invisible to the x-ray. He had first considered the possibility when I mentioned that Dr. Dietrich had remarked he had never seen a tooth of this size and depth at that position (after pulling tooth number 26).

(I can't help thinking that if I ever become a grandfather and my granddaughter should ask me "My, Grandfather, what big teeth you have," my reaction will probably be rather violent.)

When the anesthetic had begun to work, he began his search for the fourth root canal. And he found it, exactly behind the biggest canal. He cleaned it and another root, where the vestigial nerve had survived (the one which had been bleeding).

Since he was poking into the farthest reaches of my mouth, I had to keep my mouth extremely open. According to Dr. Kahlstorf, I have a "compressed jaw", which causes intense pain when I have to open it very, very wide.

At the dental clinic, they had a soft rubber block device for just that purpose -- instead of yanking ones mouth wide open, one could just bite down on the block and that would keep the jaws apart. Following the procedure, I asked whether Dr. König would mind getting one of those and that I would gladly foot the bill for it myself.

After he had cleaned out the root canals and put some more medicine into the empty canals, Dr. König closed the tooth with a temporary filling and assured me that he would not fill the root canals until the pain had completely gone away -- exactly what I hoped to hear.

He also said that I shouldn't have any further trouble (i.e. pain) with the tooth from now on. I asked whether he was willing to bet on it. He wasn't. Then, he sent me on my merry way, to return next Tuesday.

This was where Dr. Dietrich (in all likelyhood) failed:

After the anesthetic wore off, a new -- and, at the same time, old -- pain returned. It felt as if there was a hole inside my upper jaw bone. The ache crawls up into my right-hand jaw bone and can become rather infuriating and bad, only to almost disappear moments afterward.

All things considered, this ache is extremely similar and, what's more, symmetrical, to the initial tooth pain chronicled two years ago.

"The damn tooth was finally dead."

Next: Not Another Root Canal! >

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"The Continuing Health Crisis" is an 100% true account of MOATMAI's health problems. It is intended to keep all friends and enemies informed about his current status. The Whole FAQ.

First Visit? You might want to check out the summary before continuing.

Current Status: The root canal, it is done. The tooth is dead. And the pain? Well...

The whole mess began in June, 1997. The Whole Tooth starts here.

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This Section Last Updated: 2002/01/02

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