Calvin had been having an earache off and on for two months. We had been to the pediatrician twice to rule out a middle ear infection. But every week or so the poor boy would call us from the nurse's office at school complaining about that blasted ear. I had brought in Advil multiple times. His doctor thought the pain might be caused by TMJ but I didn't think so since the pain came at random times of the day...
We took him to the chiropractor to rule out a possible football injury that might have misaligned his vertebrae...although he was indeed "off," an earache came a calling once again a week later.
After days home from school, sleepless nights and way too many Advil, I figured it was time to solve the mystery.
Step one (really step three since we had been to pediatrician and chiropractor): Called dentist. Here we ruled out TMJ. We took x-rays of a huge cavity they had filled in November to be sure he didn't need a root canal. Ruled that out. Doctor thinks it might be "teething pain." Are you kidding...don't babies have that?! How many months does it really take to get a tooth in anyway. After much deliberation and confusion, she spots it! A HUGE cavity on a 12 year molar only 1/4 of the way in! She tells me that Calvin needs to get to the endontist pronto.
Step two: Go to endontist. I would not have known what that was except that Garth had been to one four times in the past two months having a root canal and other various issues worked out. He takes a moment to talk through other possibilities of Calvin's ear pain. He takes an X-ray.
Step three: Endontist is astonished at the magnitude of a cavity on a tooth that hasn't even set up shop yet. He tells me Calvin will need a Gingivectomy (WHAT?!):
A gingivectomy is a periodontal surgical procedure which includes the removal of gingival tissue in order to achieve a more esthetic appearance and/or functional contour. Gingivectomies are frequently performed using electrosurgery to cauterize away the undesired gum tissue.
He had to perform this procedure first to remove the gum that was still covering the tooth that wasn't exposed yet still housed cavity. I love watching any surgery, so I of course watched the whole show (Doctor did make sure I wasn't one of those pass out types). Poor Calvin, he squirmed a bit as this process was taking place...looked rather invasive if you ask me.
Step Four: Put in a temporary filling or a pulp cap fusion (if interested in what the heck that is):
An Indirect Pulp Cap is a procedure that is used when the dentist gets close to the nerve when removing decay. This is a perfectly proper dental procedure, and is used in cases where the nerve (or pulp) would be exposed if all the decay were removed from the cavity. Regarded as a conservative treatment, the application of medicated cement in the temporary filling helps the pulp of the tooth to repair itself by containing the decay and allowing the buildup of a wall of tooth structure between the pulp and the decayed material.
This is a "holding action". When your dentist removes the temporary filling, he may take an xray to determine if the pulp has healed. If so, the balance of the decay is removed, and a permanent restoration, or filling, can be placed in the tooth.
In summary, your dentist is trying to keep your tooth alive, avoiding the need for a root-canal filling, pulp capping, or extraction of the tooth.
So what we hope for now is NO more ear pain. No more cavities. And a happier boy! Thank goodness for great dental insurance!
Do enjoy these pictures of his special day!