This morning I experienced a first. That first was getting a crown put on my tooth. I ignorantly thought those were only for people around my parents age. I mean I brush my teeth twice daily and floss, on a good week 5 times, which is about 4 times more per week than I used to floss. But apparently a previous filling that I had gotten done several years ago cracked or something, and to avoid a root canal down the road, I obliged to doing the crown.
Talk about nerding out completely on something that normally is a dreaded experience for people. To preface, I am not the type of person who feels angst towards going to the dentist. I have been blessed with very genuine and personable dentists who have made my visits pretty painless. The only aspect that I do dread is related to my TMJ issues (jaw dislocation). My jaw is only happy in the neutral position, in other words it locks up when I have to bite down for more than 2 seconds and it gets exhausted/sore keeping it open for a long time. So knowing that this appointment was going to last 2.5 hours concerned me slightly. Thankfully, only about an hour of that was actual work being done, the rest was total fascination with the entire process.
From what I have heard, most dentists split the crown procedure into two office visits which personally sounds really inefficient. Who wants to A) go for an hour for them to numb you, file down your tooth, fit you for a crown, receive a temporary crown and then B) come back weeks later, be anesthetized again, have them remove the temporary one, and then cement in the permanent crown? No thanks.
I was pleasantly surprised when my dentist informed me that he does the entire process in one (longer) visit. I was also pleasantly surprised at how interesting my visit was. For starters, the only pain I experienced was in my jaw like I had imagined. In fact, my jaw decided to lock up every time he had me bite down to fit me for the crown. He would say “open up” and I would say “one moment” as I manipulated it open. I basically have to take my hand to the joint on my right side and massage it until the disc slides back into the correct position. We played that game about 10 times. Not the most fun thing to say the least, but also not the worse thing.
After he used some drills, vibrator things, and sharp tools back there, the cool stuff began. He let me watch this computer imaging software on the computer by my chair while he designed the crown. He had taken pictures inside my mouth which were instantly downloaded onto this machine. They had to put this powder in my mouth before the pictures which made it look like my tooth was on fire or that I got into a fight with a powdered doughnut. He answered any questions that I had and explained to me exactly what he was doing. I found out by the nurse that my dentist wanted to be an architect before he went into dentistry which explained why he was so good at using this 3-D imagining software. I remember wondering why he took a picture of the other side of my mouth (I thought maybe he forgot which tooth he was working on) but later find out it’s because they try to mirror the opposite tooth. After he designed the crown, the nurse took me into the room where all the magic happened.
As you see in the picture below, this machine carves out my crown from a block of material based on the exact pattern that my dentist created. I watched every second of that 7-minute process. This block of material was also purple, but thankfully they glossed it with a color that matches my other teeth because that’d be weird to have a purple tooth. We then went back into my original room where they prepped the tooth, put in some cement, and stuck that baby up there. I could not believe how perfectly it fit. He smoothed it a bit, said that I could eat in an hour which I was thrilled to hear because a liquid diet sounded far from appealing, and said I was on my way.
I also want to say how awesome the nurse was and what a difference a good one makes. She really set the tone for the appointment, was friendly, even gave me chapstick a couple times, and let me see everything they were doing. You nurses out there are just as important as the doctor and I commend those who are positive and friendly.
My advice for those of you having to get a crown would be to take ibuprofen if you have TMJ disorder, bring your headphones to listen to music during the drilling portion, ask question so that you know what is going on, and bring something to do while you wait for the crown. The obvious would be to find a dentist who can do it all in one day. But all-in-all it was a positive experience and although I wish I didn’t have to get a crown, I do feel more educated now.
Sorry, nothing glamorous for you today. I hope you are having a great day!