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Saturday, 05 February 2011


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I can certainly sympathise, Mike. In my time I've had a root canal, wisdom teeth removed, implants, abcesses cut out, diseased roots removed, not to mention countless fillings and extractions. In all those procedures, the one that stands out as the absolute worst to endure was the root canal. The drill has to go down so deep it feels like it will emerge on the other side of your jaw bone. And then come those horrible rasps the dentist uses to get rid of all remaining soft tissue. Uggh!

I have no fear of dentists but I don't ever want to have another root canal....

I sincerely hope your dental problems are now behind you, Mike, and I wish you a speedy recovery.

Well, Good on Dr. B., and I'm glad you're pain free!

Wishing you a swift recovery, and a swift return to solid / crunchy food without pain.

Glad to hear your ordeal is over Mike.

Speaking of Kidneys, "And no longer do I have to bombard my poor sufferin' kidneys with ibruprophen every five hours,"
and giving birth.
I don't ever wish to experience a Kidney stone again. I'd wish for a toothache instead, any day of the week.;-)

Before his retirement, my Dad hated going to the dentist so much, that he used to try and treat any toothache issues himself. I don't recall that ever working for any length of time, and he'd eventually give in and seek help. He does have a sweet tooth, and was a dentist...

(No Leicas... alas)

That is a good man.

I'm glad he resolved your problems with your tooth. Heal up, be well.

Just reading the word "hyperemic" gives me the willies.

It's a funny thing about doctors and Leicas. I saw an orthopedic surgeon, a man of apparently formidable repute, in Manhattan once about back pain. He asked what I do for a living, and after I said "photographer" he got up from behind his desk, saying only "follow me." We went down a few long corridors to another office, where he opened a filing cabinet drawer to show me a very large collection of vintage Leica cameras and lenses. There must have been over a dozen bodies. Probably a few of those rare lens hoods in their original boxes that collectors get so excited about.

Glad to hear you're doing well. Living pain-free is a real blessing.

I carried several kidney stone some years ago and would sometimes have whole days enveloped in pain. Such a relief when its finally over!

Now sell some cameras and pay Dr B.

Oh yeah? Watch this:


Everybody and his brother has a dentist story,
some good but mostly not.I'm hopping on your
bandwagon in adding dentists to the list of
"salt of the earth types."
Good to hear of your liberation from pain.

I'll second your cheer for dentists.

The thing I find these days is that, thanks to the magic of improved anaesthetics, drills, and techniques in general, the whole experience is kinda boring. Not that I'm complaining!

Glad you are feeling better!

Just a slight correction—that's a small collection. I've seen Leica collections in which the number of bodies was in the high three figures.



Having been there a few times, I can truly say, "I feel your pain." Tooth pain is no joke. Back when I was consulting in the medical/dental group management area, I had a few clients who were dentists such as yours. They expressed the exact same feelings as did your dentist about how their patients feel about coming to them and about paying. At one point, I was spending a good portion of my time with one client helping her collect several thousand in long overdue bills. No fun there either.


I used to avoid dentists, at first because I couldn't afford them on a grad student's salary, then because I was afraid of how bad my teeth were after years of neglect. A few years ago, I finally bit the bullet (as it were) and saw Dr. Clayton McCarl, who is in the third generation of McCarls to own Greenbelt, MD's oldest dental practice. He found 10 cavities, or "One for each year since you've last been to the dentist; not so bad." My back chewing surfaces are now mostly polymeric in nature. Dr. McCarl carried out the work quickly, skillfully, and with minimal pain, and despite being about a D700 poorer for the experience, I felt grateful to have avoided a root canal (or worse).

A good dentist may not be quite as rare a thing as an honest auto mechanic, but he or she is far more valuable. Freedom from tooth pain is, along with daily showers, one of the greatest luxuries of modern existence. It's a shame it took me so long to appreciate that fact.

I love the poster in my dentist's office:

"Ignore your teeth and they'll go away."

I've been going to the same dentist office for forty years. Longer than anyone currently working there. They have done very well by me and my bad teeth. It's never a pleasant experience, but that's not their fault.

My Literary hero Kurt Vonnegut blames dentists for the majority of society's woes including global warming. The reason is the same logic you noted with cows. He was confident that if there were no dentists, the majority of us would die of starvation by the age of 40 thus eliminating many of the evils on the planet. (he also threatened to sue Pall Mall for false advertising, after many years of smoking they failed to kill him as the package suggests)

Dear Julian,

Dunno when your RC was done, but in the hands of a specialist in a state-of-the-art office, it's a cakewalk. I'm not kidding.

Needed one (my first) last year. Not a late-stage emergency case, like Mike's; a routine one. I was nervous; most people seem to have stories like yours. My dentist sent me to a colleague who specializes in that and oral surgery.

Once I was there was intrigued the moment I realized they were using an electronic X-ray system, very current design. Ditto for all the rest of the gadgetry.

Total procedure from sit-down to pay-up (under 45 minutes) was completely painless. Well, okay, writing the check HURT. But otherwise, I am not kidding. Getting a normal filling at my dentist, heck simply getting my teeth examined, is a lot less comfortable.

I hope I never have to pay for one of these again, but I sure won't be fearful of it.
It's a brand new world out there.

pax / Ctein

I am very loyal to my dentist. She has been great over the years and has suffered through with my on a couple of difficult crowns. It's a trek to get there since I moved, but worth it.

I'm just glad you're pain free; the good thing about root canals is no more pain in that tooth.


If you can get the above translated into Italian, I'm sure the Museo della Tortura e di Criminologia Medievale (basically, the Museum of Torture) in San Gimignano would welcome and display it.

Hi Mike,

Having had root canal treatment twice I can testify to the level of pain involved. Having also suffered from a kidney stone and a broken back I reckon the tooth was worse. Not nice.

A good dentist is indeed a handy person to know.

Best Regards

"Red Giant phase"

Mike I once had a tooth Super Nova on me. I had to keep cool water on it to keep me from going out of my mind. After 24 hours of this the pain stopped. Got to see the root canal guy on Monday morning who assured me that I was not a recipient of a miraculous healing. The damn root died on it's own but i still had to have the root canal.

Ctein, I'm happy for your experience; my own, single taste of root canal work was agony (undertaken in 2000 - in New York, by the way). Worse, in fact, than the occasion (1981) upon which I had 16 metal rods pulled out of my upper and lower plates following the re-setting of my broken jaw. Without anaesthetic.

In case anyone's under the impression I must be well hard, I blubbed like a baby. Both times.

Every time I pay my dentist for a cleaning I feel as though I'm horribly underpaying him. Id easily give him twice what he asks. But don't tell him that.

I have found a good dentist, and a very good periodontist. I'll agree - they are worth every penny! I had my first root canal in the week of my 21st birthday, and I recall that it was a very uncomfortable procedure. That tooth (number 8 in your diagram above) was eventually crowned, and after another 30 years had to be be replaced with an implant and crown! I marvel at the improvements in dental tech over that time, and especially in pain-avoidance and pain management. These days the only thing I fear about a dental procedure is the bill.

I suffered for years from #1. Sudden and intense pain...
Last summer I have been to a new dentist who found the guilty one... and I was supposed to cross the Atlantic Ocean two weeks later.
The root canal have been done in one week. I am not suffering anymore, I am so grateful to have met this new dentist!

I sympathise 100%, but on a scale of 1-10, a tooth like that is 8, childbirth (I'm told, I'm a bloke) is 9, but a full blown kidney stone is 10. Been there, done that. It's pain so strong you just don't think you can take any more. Make it stop!!! (And an anal fissure is 9.5!)

I'll take the toothache, thanks.

Why god gave us so many sensitive nerve endings in such obscure places passeth understanding.

Great to hear your complimentary comments about my profession! Thank you. And that you've received such wonderful service. I've been in practice for 33 years and still enjoying it! The (5) children have all left home and today on ebay I bought my 1st LEICA! ...M6 body. Like a child waiting for Christmas! Now, what lens?? Got my eye on a Summicron 35 or a Zeiss 35 f2. .......all inspired of course by the Leica for a year post. Read about them for decades and now I can try one for a year and find out what all the hoo-hah is about. Shot with an OM1 and then an FE2 for years. D200 in more recent times. BTW....I've needed a couple of root canal treatments myself! No fear!

Hooray for dentists! You've posted a fitting tribute, Mike.

So far, largely by genetic luck I suspect, I have avoided needing a root canal procedure myself. But correlating stories people tell me that have dates attached, it sounds very much like Ctein is right that that procedure has been immensely improved in recent years, and is not nearly so harrowing as it used to be. I'm sure there's still considerable variation in individual cases, and probably some practitioners out there not using the best modern techniques.

I have been lucky enough to have had a terrific dentist for nearly 30 years. In fact I now am seeing his son as my regular guy is easing into retirement.
The first time his boy looked in mouth he said I'd had a lot of work. I told him to enjoy the view, it helped put him through Creighton.
These guys are both great and I am glad to count them as friends as well.

My dentist uses a Nikon. I usually wait till it gets to the point where I'm reaching for the pliers myself and then I just get it pulled.Much easier and a lot cheaper and at 65 I've 22 to go. Tooth pain ain't nothing compared to kidney stones in my opinion. I have experience with both of those. Hope you're feeling better Mike and got around to checking the music review site I sent you.

Good for you! Get a 35mm, whichever one you choose. And if I can give you one bit of advice--practice with the camera for maybe 5-10 minutes a night. Look at various objects in your living room, set the focus by feel, then check your accuracy using the rangefinder. Work out how exactly to hold the camera and how you operate every control. You don't need to practice very long, but regular, daily practice will yield huge dividends over your year with it.

Good luck,


I have no fear of dentists, all my dentists have been very good. My current one, for 20 years, and his office are the best. But if I had severe teeth pain for a month, I would be looking for a new dentists. Yikes. Anne v ha

I've always enjoyed going to the dentist. I'm fascinated by all the neat tools they get to use. My old dentist used to keep a cassette player around and you could bring in your own tapes. My only real complaint is the chairs they have. Once you're reclined, the armrests are not at the correct position for my arms and elbows and they sort of just hang there, very tiring.

I have had some unhappy times at the dentist's office, especially as a kid.

But no longer. I go to Dr. Assael (Berkeley, CA) and I can say with real feeling: when you find a good dentist, treat him or her well and count your blessings.

Glad to hear the tooth was found and fixed!

I must give a hearty thanks to the students at the Ohio State University Dental School. My jaw area was swollen, but they were able to remove the offending tooth without causing much pain. (Bad #17.) They sure didn't skimp on the anesthetic, thank goodness. Plus, the cost was practically dirt cheap.

I'd rather wear a dental appliance than have a root canal, simply because I can't see a good reason for digging through the gumline or implanting a post in my jaw. Sure, it would look better, but nearly half of my teeth had fillings by the time I was 18. Why bother?

Thank you for the kind words about dentistry. It is a great job, and yes it provides me with great camera gear. In my 30 years of practice I have found out that no one likes going to the dentist, but that people really love their dentist. I'm glad you're out of pain.

OK, so if it wasn't confusing enough for us non US readers that you people go by inches and gallons, now you've got to go and use a "universal" tooth numbering system that is not only not universal, but isn't even the recognized standard.

Oh, the pain.

(My own dentist is so wonderful I forbade him from ever moving to another city. A good dentist is much harder to find than a good man!)

Thanks Mike for posting this experience! And thanks to my patient, DC Wells for sharing this thread and for his nice comments up near the beginning.
This thread is indeed a rare event, namely a litany of compliments for dentisits. As a dentist, the fear and whining and other negative comments are mostly what I hear. Come to think of it, I dont't think I've ever seen such a long conversation complimenting and appreciating dentists! It really means a lot to a person to see that their self-giving and care for others is recognized!
BTW:Dentists are really just lousy photographers that had to get a day job.

My brother had an hyperemic tooth last year. He's really in pain at that time. Mom told him to visit our dentist in LA to know what's wrong with his upper teeth. Thankfully, the dentist identified the problem and cured the hyperemic tooth. I'm so grateful you shared your own story.

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