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Toothache: Stu learns his lesson, the hard way

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Patient experience: toothache



Toothache: Stu learns his lesson, the hard way

As a young, fit guy, Stu never paid much attention to his health. So when he got a toothache, he thought if he ignored it for long enough, it would just sort itself out. Three years after that niggling toothache, Stu experienced the most excruciating pain of his life. He says if there is one thing he would like to contribute, it is telling young people that “if you act on small problems quickly, they won’t become extreme ones in the end.”

Stu sings the blues

Stu is a muso and teaches guitar by day, so he always felt there were better things to spend his time and money on than dentists or doctors. When he first started feeling pain in his tooth, he shrugged it off because it always ended up going away.

“I left it so long that I was out of the country, travelling through Indonesia, when it started to get really bad,” Stu says.

“And you really don’t want to have dental problems in Indo – you don’t know where to go. And I was young, so I didn’t even have travel insurance.

“The pain started getting really intense and I could feel it in my jaw.

“It was so bad it gave me headaches and I knew I was up the proverbial creek.”

Now he realises that when it comes to your oral health, there’s no such thing as too busy.

Canals are not just in Venice

Patient experience: toothacheWhen Stu returned to Australia, he finally got a dental appointment and the dentist actually told him the tooth could be saved. So Stu agreed to undergo the first step of a root canal treatment.

“The doctor had to first clean the tooth and then put on an antibiotic because it was infected from leaving it untreated for so long,” Stu says.

“He gave me a temporary filling until we could get onto the canal.”

However, because the pain subsided and there were no more problems, Stu started putting off returning to the dentist and then slowly forgot about it.

“It’s important for people to know that just because the pain is gone, it doesn’t mean the problem is. Listen to the dentist, they know what they’re doing!

“A year later, I really wished I had.”

I’ll be back

Stu was back to gigging and working, not paying attention to his teeth until the pain started gradually returning. The pain turned into the Terminator of toothaches and came back with a vengeance.

“Initially, it would really start hurting at night just before bed, so I would have a nightcap to go to sleep or some painkillers.”

One night, Stu and his mates were mucking around as young guys do. Stu copped a firm hit on his jaw by accident, which was the start of the most painful saga Stu says he will ever know.

“I started screaming with pain immediately and I took some more painkillers, thinking it was just sore because it got hit.

“After a couple more weeks, the pain came and went, and I was so busy that I kept putting it off.

“Then one night, I truly learnt my lesson for good.”

Biting the bullet … hurts your teeth

Patient experience: toothacheOne night, Stu was in so much pain he says he will never forget it. Talk about learning the hard way! Stu started to realise this pain wasn’t going away any time soon and finally bit the bullet, so to speak.

“But when I eventually had my follow-up appointment with the dentist, it was too late,” Stu says.

“The dentist was cross with me because he told me that I had left it so late, the only thing left to do was extraction.

“He also said that because the tooth was so infected, if I had left it any longer, the infection could have actually spread to my brain.

“I was so disappointed with myself because I was only young and really wanted all my teeth!

“But the doctor had to pull it out and I had to suffer through more pain because the tooth was so decayed it shattered as the dentist pulled it out.

“A two-hour ordeal followed as he proceeded to carefully extract all the broken pieces of tooth from my gum.

“In the end, I had to take a lot of antibiotics too.”

Stu says waiting so long wasn’t worth it. Besides all the pain, he ended up having to spend more time and money because the problem had gotten so bad.

Bloke power

“Blokes tend to think they are invincible when they are young, but now I tell my mates this story and they make sure they book into the doctor and dentist.

“I used to hate the dentist. Now he’s my hero.”


More information

Teeth whiteningFor more information on toothache

including causes, diagnosis and treatment, see Dental Pain.

Tooth Sensitivity For more information on teeth including purpose of teeth, tooth structure, classification, location and eruption sequence, see Teeth – Adult (Permanent Dentition).


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Posted On: 10 December, 2010
Modified On: 17 August, 2017

Created by: myVMC