Dentist Visit, Update, Beat Cancer, Stephen Jackson, Root Canal, Tooth Pain, Cancer Pain

Most all of you who’ve been following my journey; understand how I have been dealing with tooth pain for almost the last 2 months…

Hey guys and gals, this is Stephen J Jackson and welcome to Beat Cancer Stephen Jackson…

Well, the truth is, I haven’t been doing very well at all. But this is very understandable. I don’t know about you, but I have never, in my life, had to deal with tooth pain like this.

I’ve been one of the lucky ones, I guess, because some people talk about it like it’s an every day occurrence.

For me, it wasn’t, and that kind of pain, not sad to say, can stay away for all I care.

The long awaited update:

After dealing with the pain for this long, my dentist appointment finally came on 12-28-2017. I know, I was having an emergency last week, hoping I could get in and be seen, to no avail.

However, this week I was scheduled, so I was ready to get my tooth finally fixed. I made it to the appointment on time, only to find out, the appointment was scheduled with the wrong dentist.

So, you can imagine how much pain I was in, to be told that nothing is going to happen, kind of made me mad, but what could I do. I have to go to that specific dentist because my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, Dr. Andersen requested it.

I was told by Dr. Slough, my Local Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, that the dentist I was going to at OHSU was, in fact, one of the best in Oregon, when it comes to treating patients with a history of cancer in the Head and Neck area.

I was thrilled to know I was seeing doctors that understood my situation. But dam, could they hurry it up a little because I am suffering.

Anyway, I made it to the appointment, and was very disappointed I had to re-schedule. But I must say, the actual service I received was amazing.

The Dentist office:

Hospital Dental Service – Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)

3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd

Portland, OR 97239


My Dentist – Patrick V. Hagerty, DMD and his team:

  • Amardeep Bains, DMD
  • Rachel Dees
  • Daniel Pop

I can say that I have never, in my life, been treated with such care and compassion, in a dental office. I felt like I was really being cared for by individuals that had my best interest in mind.

From start to finish the whole process went off without an issue at all.

When I arrived at 8am, I was checked in. About 5 minutes later, I was called in. Most of you know that you always have to wait at the dentist’s office. You get there on time, but have to wait in the waiting room, then, once in the chair, you have to wait again while they update notes, check blood pressure, and explain a procedure.

Daniel Pop, a team member, brought me back, and while he was doing so, he began to explain what it was they hoped to achieve that morning. I was happy he was sharing what the procedure was going to consist of, how long, and what I could expect.

He was very technical, explaining details about how the root canal process works, the tools used, the supplies, medication and exrays that would be used, to provide details as to the progress they would make, at any given time.

After making me feel very comfortable with what was about to happen, I met my dentist for the day, Dr. Amardeep Bains, DMD along with the primary dentist, Dr. Patrick Hagerty, DMD.

Dr. Hagerty and Bains began to explain the procedure, what they wanted to achieve, and how the process would play out.

The bottom line is, the molar has multiple roots. Meaning, they really have to take the top of the tooth down so far, they expose those canals. This consists of grinding the tooth down, along with the fillings and previous work that was done.

While I was being told about the procedure, I was aware of another Dr. in the room. I later found out that the assisting dental associate was Rachel Dees. She was the water, suction, air,  and general all around get-it-done assistant.

Once the procedure was explained in detail, the whole process started. It took about 90 minutes from start to finish. The tooth was ground down, the canals were exposed, the roots were removed and the medication and compound, used to fill the tooth, was put in place.

Why this was so difficult:

When a patient has had radiation therapy, there are a number of issues that could prevent a simple procedure from being so simple.

In my case, I had received a large amount of radiation to the left side of my neck and lower jaw. Because of the amount of radiation and location, a normal dentist will not touch a tooth in that area. One of the biggest reasons would be due to the instability of the tissue after being radiated.

Radiated tissue can become extremely complicated. If it’s cut, it may not heal. If the jawbone is disturbed, (i.e., pulling teeth) this could cause hairline cracks in the jaw, resulting in a partial bone removal if things go south.

So, how do they deal with a tooth that is possibly fractured, but cannot be pulled or disturbed in and around the gum area. A root canal.

But not just any root canal. They basically cut the tooth down to half the size to expose the canals. Normally when this type of procedure is completed, the tooth is capped. In my case, the tooth will remain at half the size, taking it out of the bite path, and then they just fill the top.

When I bite down, my upper teeth never touch the lower infected tooth. This was a very sneaky but awesome procedure. I mean, I never would have thought they would approach it this way. Now, the filling on it now is only a temporary. In 4 weeks, if all goes well, they will put more of a permanent filling in.

Today is only the day after, so pain wise, I can’t really tell. But Dr. Amardeep Bains explained it could take a couple days because of the inflammation.

After the procedure was complete, I was given instruction on how to care for the infected area, as well as what to expect in the coming days, in terms of pain, discomfort, and recovery times. I was also given antibiotics, 500mg to battle the infection.

As you can see, this was no simple procedure. Because of my situation, I could not see just any dentist.

Also, I was told at the visit they had to use a tool called a rubber damn. This tool is inserted around the single tooth. What it does is prevents any foreign material from the root canal from getting in my throat. Also, it prevents blood from draining down the throat area. Rachel Dees was in charge of this, and she did an outstanding job.

Daniel and Rachel kept everything flowing so my dentist Amardeep Bains, DMD could complete what he was doing without issue.

Oh, I think we had an issue with the water used with the tooth drill, but Daniel Pop had us covered. He switched a couple items around and presto!

All in all, I felt really good about what had taken place at OHSU, as well as the awesome service and support and received from Daniel and Rachel. You would not believe how much better you feel when people are showing that they actually care about what it is you are going through.

I want to thank those at OHSU for helping me get this tooth issue under control. But I really want to thank Daniel Pop, Rachel Dees and Amardeep Bains, DMD for spending the time you did, reassuring me that the procedure would be over soon and I was doing, OK.

Thank you to all my supporters, you know who you are.

Now, once this pain decreases, I’ll be able to write more.

You know, when I was in that kind of pain, tooth pain,  I could not focus, I couldn’t hold my head up, I couldn’t use my jumper for draining my lymph fluid, or simply walk around the block because of extreme pain. My life was literally on hold because of the pain spikes to my head. I hope that changes real soon..

OK, Till next time…