I had to have a tooth pulled yesterday. This particular tooth has been a problem for about 10 years. I first broke a filling out of it when I was pregnant with my last child. I didn't want to get it fixed while I was pregnant because I wasn't sure about the epinephrine in the Novocaine shots they give you to numb you up. I didn't want anything to mess with my blood pressure and perhaps harm the baby. It wasn't hurting, so I left it alone for the time being. When it did start hurting a while later, I went to the dentist and had the filling replaced.
It was a big filling, but it lasted a few years and then it started to hurt again. At that time I got a root canal and a crown put on the tooth. About a year ago I noticed that the tooth felt as if it were loose. It wasn't loose though and didn't hurt at all, so I ignored it. About 6 months ago I began to get some swelling along the gum line that would come and go, like I had injured it with a sharp piece of food or something. Again, I ignored it, because the tooth itself did not hurt.
Then, about a month ago it began to hurt when I bit down on something hard. The pain was not that bad, so I put off going to the dentist out of laziness. I thought it was getting better and I was lulled into a false sense of complacency.
A week and a half ago, I woke up and realized that I could not put off going to the dentist another minute. The gum around the tooth was severely swollen and it felt like it was going to explode. The pressure was so intense that I felt like I was trapped in it. The only way that I can describe it, is that it was similar to claustrophobia, in that I felt like the pressure was closing in on me and that I couldn't escape it. The dentist took some x-rays, gave me some pain killers and antibiotics then sent me to a specialist to re-check the root canal.
At the specialist's office, it was discovered that the tooth was broken at the root level, under the crown it was fractured and abscesses and would need to be removed. At that point I was relieved. I was ready to pull the tooth out myself with a pair of pliers. The next day, I went to the regular dentist to have the tooth pulled. It felt so good to get that tooth and all its poison out of my body.
I was reading Psalm 38 today as a part of a 150 day challenge I am doing. The pain that David describes in this passage is the way I felt about that tooth. I don't think that my bad tooth was a sign from God of my sin, or a judgment being rendered to me, but I can see where it would feel like that at times. Especially back in David's day when there was very little medical care, and the way the body reacts to germs was not as well known as it is today. I can also see it as a wake-up call of sorts.
In reading about the type of abscess that I had on-line, I was stunned to know that in years past, people died from this sort of infection. Where mine was situated was on the top, so the infection often (and still can) go into the brain and kills the patient. I also have a added risk of a tooth born infection becoming a blood-born infection that could travel to my hip replacements. I knew all of this in the back of my mind, but I still put off going to the dentist. Why?
I am not afraid of the dentist. I don't enjoy it, but I don't fear it either. I think the reason that I didn't go was simply because I didn't think anything that bad was going to happen to me. That is pretty foolhardy, since the chances of having a disease that requires one to have both hips replaced by age 44 is pretty far-fetched too, but it happened to me. It was really just stupid for me to wait to go to the dentist.
I did read that some people do put off going to the dentist when they have this sort of infection because, since the abscess is draining, the pain is not that bad. It is only when it gets to a more advanced stage and the pressure/pain becomes markedly worse, that people seek dental help. This is what happened in my case. Still no excuse, but a reason nonetheless.
So, please, do not put off going to the dentist. Moms would not hesitate to take their child to the dentist if they had this kind of problem, you should make sure that your own dental health is in good order. It could be a matter of life or death.