I do eat an apple a day. May the spirit of idioms protect me!

I don’t have a dentist in Toronto. It’s something that would make a lot of sense, but a combination of laziness and overwhelmed-ness has nixed any thrust to make it happen. It seems like having a dentist is one of those things that you only really consider once you really need one. You rarely think of dentists when things are going swimmingly, which is why I found myself frantically searching for available dentists in a mildly hungover state. See, since Thursday I’ve noticed a weird constant dull pain in one of my back molars. It was annoying, but not the most concerning thing. It also came packed with a complimentary nugget of pressure behind my right eye. I didn’t think too much of it, but was definitely reminded of it whenever I blew my nose. This sharp pain would jolt through the molar, causing discomfort. Sub-optimal to say the least.

Today I found that it was getting to the point that it was encroaching on my ability to sleep. Sleep being one of the primary cures for a mild hangover, this became concerning. With no dentist, obtaining one was suddenly a concern. I called a couple of places, but taking on a new client and looking at something on a Saturday at short notice is apparently not a done thing. A place close to me said they could take me on, but I’d probably be looking at a check up some time in April. I couldn’t wait that long. A friend referred me to their long-time dentist, who seemed lovely, but said she couldn’t see me until maybe Tuesday or Thursday. Still a lot better than April. She recommended that if it was urgent, I should go to one of the emergency dentists around Toronto. “Whatever you do” she said “don’t let them take your tooth out. They’re gonna want to pull it, but you’re too young for that.” Equal parts spooked and impressed with this compassion from a stranger, I gave my thanks and called up the emergency clinic.

They could see me in an hour, the receptionist said. She queried my payment method and said that if I had insurance they’d be able to sort me out with the proper forms for reimbursement. Wow, immediately into the money. A yelp review had given them only 2 stars, citing their focus on payment and inadequate workmanship. This person had been given a filling that fell out later that day. Once again, I was spooked. I went there nonetheless, shaky and fragile on the streetcar. Despite my apprehensions, I needed to see someone about this toothache and I didn’t consider waiting out a number of days to be an option. I arrived at the clinic and opened the door.

The receptionist gave me a few forms to fill out, payment and insurance details, etc, and I saw the nurse in under 5 minutes. Still a little reticent, I was surprised by her friendly, warm manner. She prepped a few things, laid a lead apron over me and got me to bite down on some plastic stick with a few solid panels attached. It was uncomfortable and dug into the roof of my mouth a little. She apologised and said it was unfortunate, but essential for the x-ray. “Please keep holding it for 5 more seconds” she said, and dashed out of the room. I heard a buzz and a few thumps, then the x-ray was done. Couldn’t have been more than 2 seconds. She removed the apparatus and apron, then said the dentist would be in to see me shortly.

Once again, friendly guy with a warm and welcoming demeanour. Maybe the yelp review was wrong. He poked around a bit and gave me the verdict. My teeth were perfect, he said, no signs of decay or rot. If I was experiencing pain, it was being influenced by something other than my teeth. He asked me about how the symptoms had presented themselves. I told them they started on Thursday and had been present but increasing since then.

I mentioned the pain I felt when I blew my nose. His eyes lit up. He explained to me that there are all these empty pockets around the sinus. If the sinus is to become inflamed, it can cause those pockets to fill up with mucus. The mucus places constant pressure, which would explain the pain behind my eye. It can also press on the complex system of nerves that link between the mouth and sinus areas. Seeing as my teeth were fine, he said that the most likely cause of my tooth pain was sinus congestion. In short, my cold has gotten so bad that it’s causing me toothache. More common than I’d think, he said. There was nothing that he could do, seeing as there were no problems to treat. I just had to take some over the counter meds and treat the symptoms until they ran their course.

Ludicrous. The body is a bizarre sack of organs, nerves and muscles that interlink in the strangest ways. He wasn’t wrong though. Following his suggestion I bought cold/flu tablets that were decongestants and anti-inflammatories. While straight ibuprofen didn’t do shit, these ones have wiped the area clean and as a side effect, I can actually breathe through my nose again. When the meds kick in, the pain vanishes as the mucus and congestion subsides. Weeeeird. It’s not until we’re actually sick that we seem to appreciate how great it is to be healthy. Still, at least my teeth are fine. Though maybe just in case I should look into finding a dentist. It makes all the sense.

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