A Space to Heal


My body heard the roots crack as the dentist turned the tooth one way, then the next. The Vaseline on my bottom lip helped the cold tool angle where it needed to, left and then right and then left again.

The crown popped off, as expected, from the second root canal the tooth underwent a year ago. That’s when the pain really started, after that second root canal.

The first root canal was when I was in High School, when my braces maneuvered my jaws so only two teeth touched when my mouth closed, killing the tooth with too much contact, too much pressure, too much expectation.

In trying to do something good for myself, something bad happened.

And it happened again with the second root canal. At a routine teeth cleaning a few years ago the dentist told me I would have to get another root canal eventually in the same tooth – number fifteen.

So lots of money was spent doing something good. The first dentist had missed a root, which continued a low grade infection for the next ten years. The second root canal packed the root, tickling it’s tip to the edge of the sinuses.

But then the sinuses started hurting, and other new pains never seemed to quite go away.

The dentists agreed that the next best course of action would be to pull number fifteen.

“Do you want to see your tooth?” the dentist asked. He showed it to me, with three strong roots of bone and one root of bloody flesh, limp and infected.

I’m babying that side of my mouth now. But the sinuses still hurt. And the tooth next to number fifteen cries in sharp pain when it hits its lower mate, the shock breaking me into tears. Each time making me afraid this isn’t over, that it might just get worse from here, again.

But if I let it, each time the pain could remind me that as much as I think I have control, I don’t. That even though I think this is my fault, it isn’t.

That, maybe, healing doesn’t always look like healing.

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