Every Wednesday since the last week in February, I have been subjected to the most heinous torture. I have been forced to lie prone in a chair beneath blinding lights, where I have been worked over with various horrific instruments: massive needles, sharp picks, grinding wheels, and even drills. I have been left bloody and exhausted, generally not even able to speak properly once it is all over. Today, though, the torture ended. I won’t have to see the inside of the dental hospital for another three months.
It all began when HJ and I went to the dentist back in January, after returning from a year in the States. We were there for our yearly scaling. I knew it was not going to be pretty, because when I had my previous scaling toward the end of 2016, before we left for the States, the dentist told me that I would need to have more intensive work done below the gum line. This would involve four sessions in which my tooth, gums, and roots would be cleaned in quadrants. Unfortunately, I did not have time to complete the procedure before the end of the year, so I had to postpone it. I knew that I was going to have to deal with this upon coming back to Korea, and I was not looking forward to it.
(If you’re wondering why I didn’t have the procedure done in the States, well, I had to get my own medical insurance for the year, and in order to avoid paying an exorbitant amount of money I got the cheapest plan possible. Visits to the dentist would have been astronomically expensive. Medical care in the States may be great, but the insurance system is the pits. Thankfully, I managed to avoid major illness or injury for the entire year and never had to seek medical treatment.)
So I was not surprised when the dentist (a different one, as this time we went to the SNU dental hospital) told me that I was needed to have this work done. I scheduled the sessions to begin at the end of February, right before the start of the semester, and for the past five weeks, every Wednesday, I’ve walked across campus to get the treatment done. The perceptive among you may have noticed that I said the treatment involved four sessions. That actually ended last week, but during the treatment, the dentist discovered that I had a cavity, so I went back today to get that taken care of.
The periodontal treatment was not fun at all. The treatment itself generally didn’t hurt, but only because they would anesthetize that entire area of my mouth before beginning. The anesthetic shots themselves, though, hurt like hell. Even after being anesthetized, I still found all the scraping and grinding very unpleasant. The worst week was when I had the upper right quadrant done. Quite some time ago, my wisdom tooth in that area shattered (I don’t remember why—it just kind of broke into a lot of little pieces). I never had anything done to it because it seemed to be OK, never got infected, etc. But the dentist said that there were still two pieces of it left, and she asked me if I wanted to remove it since I was already anesthetized. To tell the truth, I had always wanted to get rid of it, so I told her to go for it. The procedure itself did not hurt, but once the anesthetic wore off, I had to deal with a throbbing pain. I only ended up taking pain killers that week—I didn’t experience any real discomfort after any of the other sessions.
Today was something new, though. I had no idea what to expect, as this was the first cavity I had ever had. Last week, after my final cleaning session, they took some X-rays to see how close the cavity was to the nerve, and thankfully it didn’t seem to be that deep. I wasn’t too surprised by this—I imagine that if the cavity had reached the nerve, I would have had toothaches. Still, you never know. When I went in today, the dentist told me that she was going to do it without anesthetic, which relieved me on the one hand (because, as I mentioned above, those shots hurt a lot) and made me a little nervous on the other. To make a long story short, though, I didn’t feel any pain at all during the procedure, except for my jaw feeling a bit sore from having to hold my mouth wide open for so long. They filled the hole in my tooth with a resin, and I guess they did a pretty good job because the tooth doesn’t look or feel any different.
So I am finally free of that place of torture, and as an added bonus I don’t have to worry about my teeth falling out any time soon. I do have a check-up scheduled for three months from now, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, this is one less thing I have to worry about in what has so far been a busy, hectic, and rather stressful semester.