Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting Drilled and Other Things That Must Be Done

I have a bionic tooth. At least it should be bionic. I've spent nearly $5,000 on it (no dental insurance, yikes!) so I feel that it should have some magical powers, at the very least. My neighbor suggested that I just pull the tooth, rather than spend two months mortgage on getting it fixed, but for me, keeping all my teeth is very important to me, and at all cost. I am, however, terrified of dental work so getting all this work done does make things more difficult.

Back in January, I found out that I needed a root canal. I'd spotted a small cavity on my gum line, and when my dentist took x-rays, she saw that on the same tooth, way way under the filling that was in place, was another cavity. I needed a root canal. While this is always better news than, "I think we are going to need to pull your tooth", it's still bad news bears to me. 

I choose a local endodontist who turned out to be big and seemingly grumpy, with a thick Russian accent. His demeanor was unsettling so I just kept reminding myself that I was there to have a root canal, not to have dinner with him. Perhaps I should have trusted my instincts though, and made a run for it.  It took him over an hour to get me numb, then an hour to do the root canal (two canals, actually). All the while, he was pushing with his big hands (in my little mouth), moaning stressfully, asking for tools, and sighing as if things weren't going well. At the end, a piece of his file broke off in the canal and he informed me that he would attempt to retrieve it. He began digging and scraping for another hour, to no avail. In the meantime, the appointment went so late that I had to arrange via text for W to pick my son up from school. I left, shell shocked. 

A week later, I returned to my dentist, who did a temporary crown and advised me make an appointment for a crown lengthening procedure. My dentist, Dr. Soares, is wonderful. She is small, young, and pretty, and very skilled as a dentist. Plus, she and her assistant talked about reality t.v. the whole time, and while I am not a watcher, the talk was calmly distracting. 

Today, just five weeks after the temporary crown appointment, I went to the periodontist to have my crown lengthening procedure done. Before I left the house, I called my ex-husband to let him know that I was going for another procedure, so that he would be available by text if I needed him to go get our son from school. Thankfully, he was prepared to help, if need be. One less thing to worry about.

Dr. Dimaira was to cut away tissue (read my gum line) so that the crown could fit over my tooth, as the cavity removed had been below the gum line. After my experience with my to-remain-unnamed harrowing endodontist, I was fairly nervous.

I told Dr. Dimaira and her assistant, Kathy, what had happened at the root canal appointment, and what my concerns were for this one: not getting numb, having the appointment run hours long, pain. My anxiety was apparent. They assured me that the procedure would take less than an hour, and that they would do their best to make it as painless as possible. While they were numbing me, my mom called the office and asked them to tell me, "Good luck" from her. (She has been to Dr. Dimaira for various work on her teeth, and loves her.) They gave me 600 mg. of ibuprofen before the Novocaine, so that when it wore off, I would have something to lessen the pain. They numbed me, and within ten minutes, they got started.

Dr. Dimaira had to remove the temporary crown before she started cutting away the tissue. I was waiting to feel the pop! of the crown coming off, but all that was happening was some minor poking around. About 15 minutes in, while I was waiting (numbly, thank the Lord) for the crown to be removed, she said, "We're halfway done." I was stupefied. I didn't even know she'd begun. Yes, her tools were in my mouth, as was the suction wand, Mr. Thirsty as my son's pediatric dentist calls it, but I felt nothing, nor was there any taste in my mouth. No blood, no metallic bite. She had already cut away the tissue, and all that was left was for her to clean the area, and give me a stitch. 

I cannot tell you how painless this procedure was. No stress, no pain. Both the dentist and her assistant were kind, calming women. They talked casually. I didn't hear her asking for tools, breathing heavy, or any of the other things I experienced with the endodontist. It was easier than any dental procedure I'd ever had done. I have a list of instructions, pain killers, and antibiotics to take, along with instructions to drink lots of cold beverages.

It's been nine hours and already the passive bleeding has stopped, I have no swelling and no pain. I went to Grassroots for dinner, and picked up a salad, some artichokes with goat cheese, and garlic herbed baby carrots. And now I am off to make the peanut butter balls (sorry I've kept you waiting on this recipe - will post it Monday for sure, with pics). Pretty good, given the expectations I had following my oral surgery.

As a mother, I think it's important to share good service providers with friends, on the occasion that I find them. After all that I've been through, I want to share information on both my dentist, who is in Mountain Lakes, and my periodontist (who does crown lengthening procedures, pulls teeth, and does implants), who is in Montville. While I will not name the endodontist, if you are going for a root canal and looking to avoid him, contact me offline and I will give you his name. I am also including my son's pediatric dentist, because he is so amazing. He has done baby root canals on my son, pulled a tooth or two, and given him fillings. He's so good, that my son doesn't mind going to the dentist. 

Drill baby, drill.

Dr. Kimberly Soares, Family Dentistry
43 Bloomfield Avenue
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046
(973) 263-1919

Dr. Michele Dimaira, Periodontal
170 Changebridge Road, Unit C-6
Montville, NJ 07045
(973) 276-7926

Dr. Christopher Jones, Pediatric Dentistry
1129 Bloomfield Avenue
West Caldwell, NJ 07006
(973) 575-8330

Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.


  1. Getting drilled? Best blog title yet honey. Yoah funny.
    Love ya

  2. I had a similar procedure but a great experience! I too hate having dental stuff done. Act usually leading up to it the stress causes me to have dreams that all my teeth fall out! With all my health issues and surgeries over the years that I seem to take calmly, it's the dentist that gets me!

    Michele Ghusson DDS
    Tri-County Endodontics
    245 Baldwin Rd, Parsippany

    My tooth was in rough shape as a had a previous botched root canal & post. She was awesome & saved the tooth! She also was great at keeping me relaxed, might have helped that she was the comedian Sarah Silverman's doppelganger, LOL which I still laugh about!

    I also pay for denatal insurance, it's super cheap about $85/yr for a single plan. You have to go to participating dentists, periodontal, etc but you get a huge discount on the services! I paid half for all the work I had done which was huge when the bills are in the thousands!
    I can give you the info if you like and you can see if you dentist participates.

    Glad you are done w/ that not a fun adventure in my book!

  3. Tray, please send me the dental insurance info. I am very interested. I wish I'd had it three months ago.

  4. I emailed you the insurance info the other day. Hope you got it!

  5. I did. Thank you. Unfortunately, none of my dentists are in this plan.