The patient said, “Don’t say I told you so.” I said, “I don’t have to, you just did.”
She said, “This is going to cost twice as much now, isn’t it?” I said, “Yes.”
“Will the root canal make the pain go away?” “Yes.”
“Well then, let’s get this over with.” “Open, please.”
It didn’t have to be this way. I showed the patient the photo of her cracked tooth several years ago, recommended a crown, but she brushed it off. “It doesn’t hurt,” she said. “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” “I’m pretty busy right now.” Every time I saw her in the office, she had another excuse.
Then, over the weekend, she was just eating a salad—it’s always a salad—and the tooth started hurting. Then, it kept her up a couple of nights. Then, it hurt when she drank anything hot or cold. Then, it hurt when she touched it with her toothbrush.
Now, in addition to the crown, the tooth needs a root canal. Check out the photos—note the seemingly superficial cracks. In the second photo, notice how the least menacing crack is actually the one that extends under the old filling, all the way across the floor of the tooth, having done irreversible damage to the nerve. Then, in the third photo, take a look at the nerve chamber of the tooth—there’s no blood; the tooth is dead.
It didn’t have to be this way.