Quick but not easy, I call this The Root Canal Diet. A few weeks ago I developed a toothache, the first one in my entire life. I thought at the time, “now I know what a toothache is and I wish it on nobody”. But as bad as it seemed, as the days went by it got much worse. About 2-1/2 weeks ago I went to the dentist who took an x-ray and saw nothing too unusual. The problem was in my furthest back molar on the lower right side of my mouth. I don’t have many fillings, but the ones I have are from long ago in my teenage years. This one was from that period and as the filling was cracked the dentist suggested replacing it. This would give him a view of the tooth that might indicate the source of the pain. The possibility of the tooth itself being cracked was raised, but the x-ray did not show that. This was a Friday morning and I was allowed to go on my way to decide what to do. Big mistake.
By Saturday it was obvious I was going to have a very tough time getting through the weekend. Near overdose combinations of Ibuprofen and Tylenol did nothing and by Monday morning I was in trouble. I went to the dentist who thankfully squeezed me into his schedule and took out the filling. The tooth was indeed cracked also and the tooth did appear to have root canal problems. So at that point I was offered options for possible relief. Since I am lucky to have dental insurance, I choose to try to save the tooth by a root canal and then a crown. I was told if I did not have insurance, the cost to remove the tooth would be less than $100.00. The cost to do a root canal and crown would be $2,000.00. I can see why people without insurance would just get the tooth pulled!
There was not time in the dentist’s schedule to do the whole root canal that day, so it was just started and an appointment made to come back for completion in 10 days. By this time an infection had developed and spread to my neck and lymph nodes. I started on antibiotics and for the next week, took 3 Ibuprofen, then 3 hours later, 3 Tylenol, then 3 hours later, 3 Ibuprofen, and so on through the whole day. This did not get rid of the pain by any means, but got me out of the fetal position and functioning at least well enough to go to work. What it did not do was allow me to eat… and that is the genesis of this post.
Because of the tooth pain and the pain from the infection, I was not able to open my mouth more than a crack for the entire week. I started out the first few days sucking down yogurt and apple sauce, but after losing 12 pounds since the start of the problem, realized I needed to somehow get more calories. What I did was pretty much take my normal diet of vegetables, rice, yogurt, etc. and put it in a blender with some liquid. Depending on the food ingredients I would use water, tomato soup, olive oil and vinegar to achieve a sauce like bowl of something could squeeze in my mouth without opening or having to chew. It worked as after losing as much as 15 pounds, I stopped the decline and actually gained back a couple of pounds.
After 7 or 8 days, the antibiotics worked enough to enable me to eat soft food without blending it and today I went back for the finishing of the root canal. Right now I feel pretty good, but I am waiting for the numbing from the dentist to wear off before getting too excited. I still weigh 10 or 12 pounds less than when this all started, probably right at my ideal weight. I am sure the pounds will come back once I am able to eat as before. But you know what? I will trade being a few pounds over ideal weight for a painless mouth any day! I will forever more have great sympathy for anyone who tells me they have a “toothache”. It is definitely one of life’s tortures you have to experience for yourself if you are to have any understanding at all.
Supposedly this all came about because I cracked the tooth by clenching my teeth when I sleep. So now I will try wearing a clip like thing on my front teeth when sleeping that will prevent me from doing this. I hope it works. I never want to have this happen again. This experience, coming on the heals of another health concern that involved a few doctor visits and some very unpleasant tests to thankfully eliminate some decidedly scary possibilities, has made the past couple of months quite trying.
Welcome to the world of getting older and living with pain I guess! And this for someone with a very healthy lifestyle and diet. I still consider myself middle aged as I am 55, but as they say, getting older is not for the faint of heart. I do consider myself very fortunate so far though. We have a relative who is bravely battling through a tough time with cancer. That sure puts all of this in perspective. Small potatoes by comparison for sure!