When is a toothache not a tooth problem? When it is a harbinger of a cold and sinus infection.
I awoke last Saturday morning, aware of a disturbing sensitivity in my upper right molar. Tooth #2, as it is known on my dental chart, has gotten a lot of attention throughout my life. You could say we have a love/no-love relationship.
A cavity in #2 ran too deep for my own good in high school, and that tooth and I endured a root canal and installation of a three-quarter crown. That’s the no-love part. While eating a piece of cheddar cheese studying for commercial law, that crown became unseated. To make a long story short, I met Bing when I went in to the Georgetown dental school clinic have it re-cemented. That’s the love part. After we were married, that crown kept coming loose, and Bing eventually remade it. He specialized in restorative work and Georgetown was renowned for its training in gold work, so if you have to have a crown, I’m told this is a nice one to have.
But since that tooth no longer has a live nerve, I started worrying about the reasons why it would be sensitive. By Monday morning, the pain was much worse, and I was having trouble biting down even on my left side (a Sherlock Holmes-like clue, once you know the ending). I did the good patient thing and called the office of our friend and dentist. They got me in right away.
To our relief but bafflement, the x-rays were clean as a whistle and Dr. Bruce couldn’t find anything else amiss as he probed and tapped around. The only way to eliminate a sinus infection, he said, was to put me on antibiotics and see if that helped. Within hours, it did, and by the next morning, I was amazed that I was breathing much better, the pain subsiding. I didn’t even realize I was walking around so stuffy.
I also didn’t realize that when I felt so dragged out over the weekend, I was coming down with a cold. As this week has progressed, my cold has gotten worse, but each day my upper molars have become less sensitive. Constant hot herb tea and clear soups have kept me going at the office.
At my Thanksgiving time visit, the Dana-Farber folks alerted me to the increasing prospect of sinus and other respiratory infections as my IgG and IgA levels continue to fall, and I’ve read about exactly this phenomenon on the WM talk-list from other patients. Unfortunately for some patients, they undergo major dental work, only to find nothing was dentally wrong while they battled other complications of living with a constant state of infection.
Is it possible to be glad to have a cold and sinus infection? Actually, yes. I’m relieved Bing’s #2 crown is soldiering on, grateful for modern medicine, and TGIF.
P.S. At least my "Bright Lights" Swiss chard is happy.