13 June, 2011


A few months back, the first time I visited our new dentist, 'removal of wisdom teeth' was once again added to my treatment plan.  (With my last dentist, I went so far as to visit an oral surgeon for the initial consult, but with our HMO they had to submit the paperwork to the insurance before the insurance would approve the procedure.  The paperwork got screwed up, and I wasn't in any hurry to have this done, so I just pretended the whole thing never happened rather than follow up. Scott's paperwork went through just fine a few months later, and he survived having his taken out just fine. That still didn't inspire me to go through it all.)

Anyway, the new dentist said he could take them out in-office, under novocaine but not anesthesia, two at a time.  And so I asked Facebook if anyone could think of a reason why I shouldn't go this route and save myself $500 or more.  Aside from a few people with "ooh - dentist - scary" reactions, there really weren't any.  So the next time I went in, I scheduled the first two to be pulled - #1 and #32 on the right side.

And now I'm going to attempt to post the juicy part of the story behind a "jump break" to spare anyone who can't bear the horror of what goes on when most people are asleep in the chair.  I personally don't think it's so bad, but Scott seemed to get a little squirmy when I told him parts of it.

The Extraction

Truth be told, I was terrified.  I noticed my signature getting progressively shakier as I went through all of the paperwork.  As with all dental work, it started with anesthetic goop, followed by no less than 10 different stabs of the novocaine needle.  I was told I would feel a bunch of pressure "which is different than pain," (no shit, Sherlock!) and if I felt any actual pain to let him know right away.  I really don't know exactly what he did inside my mouth - I have a strict policy of not looking at any tool headed toward my face (seriously - have you ever SEEN the size of a novocaine needle?) - but I'll choose to believe that he just wiggled the tooth with a few different size wrenches until it was ready to come out.  He did tell me something about "expanding the bone" to get the tooth out, but I prefer to pretend I didn't hear that part. Sounds scary!  All I really could tell you about was that things were being clamped on and off of my teeth, and that at some point I distinctly heard cracking coming from each of the teeth.  That was the worst, because I thought the tooth was going to break apart and become infinitely more difficult to remove.  But they both came out in one piece.  The girl operating the Mr. Thirsty offered to let me keep them ("just bleach them and you can wear them as earrings for Halloween!") but I declined.  Scott has requested that I keep the next two. We'll see about that.

And I left the office biting firmly (as firmly as possible considering I couldn't feel that side of my mouth at all) on a piece of gauze, after paying $32 for my hour of fun.

"No Spitting"

In order to avoid dry socket (which is apparently the worst thing ever), there a lot of things you can't do after an extraction - drink from a straw, smoke, suck on anything, have soda or spicy food, or spit.  In the beginning, that spitting thing is really problematic.  You're still bleeding, and between the novocaine and the gauze, your saliva glands are turned on full-blast.  And so, instead of spitting, I found myself leaning over the sink with my own personal mouth faucet on low, waiting for it to stop.  And it's thick spit, the kind that's attached to your mouth and the U-bend of the pipe below the sink at the same time.  Eventually, I'd get bored of it and basically use my fingers to cut the spit string like cutting the cheese on a cup of French onion soup.

After an hour (with 20-30 minutes worth of ick accumulated in my mouth), it was time to take out the gauze and check to see how much I was still bleeding.  This time, I took my "no spitting" show to the bathroom so I could look in the mirror and check.  I leaned forward to drool and turned the water on full-blast so I wouldn't leave the porcelain sink looking like a crime scene.  The blood-streaked drool coming from my mouth got caught in the water coming out of the faucet and started flipping around like a jump rope.  I could feel it actually being pulled from my mouth.  The visual was Tosh-worthy, and I made a note to record it when I got the other two wisdom teeth removed.

Things got a lot less funny a few minutes later when I looked in the mirror and realized that all of my teeth were blood-stained and that I couldn't brush or rinse out my mouth for a full day.  That was traumatizing!  Oh, and there was a jell-o-filled hole in the back of my mouth.

Soft Food

I basically left the dentist office hungry, and remained inconveniently hungry until my mouth was un-numb enough to eat and drink.  And of course, day 1 was filled with soft food - yogurt, pudding, squash soup, smoothies (without a straw)... My routine basically alternated between ice-pack-on-face and eating every 1/2 hour because I couldn't find a soft food with substance.  I went to bed pretty much as hungry as I had been all day.  It was driving me insane!

Crispers for lunch.  I got a soup trio with tomato bisque, broccoli-cheese, and chicken noodle.  The broccoli-cheese had the flavor of Thanksgiving broccoli casserole, and would have tasted better poured over noodles or a baked potato, but I licked the bowl.  Their tomato is stellar.  And their chicken noodle has noodles that are puffy and thick like dumplings.  Aside from some pieces of chicken I wasn't up to chewing, I polished off all three little bowls.

I have since graduated to bread, pasta, over-cooked vegetables... I'm avoiding crunchy and chewy foods, but I think by today I'm supposed to be allowed to eat those.  I miss cereal, but I'm really in no hurry to start gnawing through meat again, maybe because I still have a faint taste of blood in my mouth.

Pain and Pills

Before my extraction, the dentist called in 3 prescriptions for me - 800 mg ibuprofen, hydrocodone, and amoxicillin.  I decided right away that I wasn't going to take the narcotic unless I really needed it.  In the past, it's made me high but not actually helped with pain.  And I only took one - before bed on the first night as a "just in case."  And at this point, I'm taking one ibuprofen in the morning and one before bed when I take the amoxicillin (and my normal pills).  Mostly I found that the ice pack was more than enough to keep me from hurting. 

I told Scott that I don't think anyone should have their wisdom teeth removed until they've already needed a root canal in another tooth.  Comparatively, this has really not been bad at all.  On the first and second days, my pain level was basically at a constant 2-3.  Totally manageable.

I have to call them to schedule the left side for some time in July. I requested Friday and Monday off this time, but there's no reason I couldn't have gone back to work today.  That's good to know, though my bottom-left tooth isn't completely above the surface and I'm expecting that to be slightly worse.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to take a handful of pills, eat some breakfast, and gently rinse my mouth out with warm salt water.  Yum...

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