Tag Archives: dentists

Today’s dental drama

Earlier in the week I wrote about the problem that developed with one of my wisdom teeth. I am now writing with a mouthful of 30 teeth, as opposed to the 31 I had before the day started. (As I mentioned in the previous post, I was genetically endowed with only 3 of those wise choppers, so I only ever had 31 teeth.)

Kelly kept insisting that the dentist would not do an extraction then and there. When her wisdom teeth were extracted several years back, it was scheduled with an oral surgeon and a rather big deal. So she had a different experience. When I got to the dentist today and explained the situation, he took an x-ray and said, yup, that tooth has to come out and they’ll do it right away.

First, they numbed my mouth with a kind of anesthetic paste. Then they shot me up with three separate injections of whatever -caine-based chemical they are using today. My mouth went numb pretty quickly but they waited ten minutes just to be sure. The dentist explained what would be happening in the procedure. I asked him how long it typically takes.

“Could be anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, it’s hard to say.”

It took 30 seconds.

After come pulling and levering, and NO PAIN whatsoever, the doctor removed his fingers from my mouth, held up the affected tooth and said, “It’s a boy!”

It left a rather deep gap into my gum, some 16 centimeters. The doctor is hoping the bone will come down to help fill that gap. In the meantime he put in a collagen plug. He gave me an antibiotic to take for the next 7 days, as well as gauze to seep up the nastiness that is oozing from the wound. He said I can eat solids when I feel comfortable, but I need to avoid spicy foods for a few days. And no straws or alcohol for 72 hours.

It went far smoother than I imagined. I have a follow up appointment on the 28th, at which time I will also have a comprehensive exam, the first one I’ve had in longer than I’m willing to admit. As I write this sentence, most of the anesthetic has worn of and despite the 800mg of Advil I took nearly an hour ago, it is, shall we say, uncomfortable.

Before I left for the dentist, by the way, Kelly said to me, “Don’t forget to brush your teeth!” I did it for her because I didn’t want to argue with a pregnant lady. But come on, really? Are all dentists in the world under some mass illusion that people come to their offices with remarkably clean teeth and fresh breath?

I should mention, by the way, that my dentist, who is also Kelly’s dentist, was pretty awesome. It’s the first time I’ve had a dentist younger than I am, but it made no difference in quality and care. He did a great job, better than I could have imagined, and if anyone in the Falls Church/Arlington/Alexandria area is looking for a dentist, I recommend him.

And thanks again to everyone who kept my spirits up during this nervous time. I was not as bad as my writer’s imagination allowed me to believe it would be and I kept apologizing to the dentist and his assistant for feeling foolishly nervous about the whole thing.

Caution: dental work ahead

I once saw a video in which Isaac Asimov talked about his two fears, one irrational the other rational. The irrational fear was of flying. The rational fear was of husbands. I mention this because I have a mild case of odontophobia and I openly admit it is an irrational fear, but I have it nonetheless. I just don’t like people poking around in my mouth with sharp objects. Give me snakes, heights, enclosed places, spiders, dogs, broken mirrors, black cats, the lot of bothers me not one iota. But a visit to the dentist…

Sometime last week while I was in Los Angeles, my upper left wisdom tooth*, seemed to suddenly be rubbing against the inside of my cheek, making things somewhat uncomfortable. As the days progressed and the discomfort grew, it began to seem as if that tooth were actually turned sideways so that a sharp edge was pressed against my inner cheek. It gradually got worse. I have a pretty high tolerance or pain and that coupled with my odontophobia makes a strong argument against calling the dentist.

(Also, there is the small fact that I haven’t been to a dentist in many, many years. I take good care of my teeth, have never had serious trouble with them and I can’t stand the earful of prodding you get at the dentist. So I just stopped going.)

Well, Monday night I asked Kelly for the number for her dentist and yesterday morning I called to make an appointment. I said I wanted to get a cleaning, and oh, by the way, I have this wisdom tooth that appears to have a mind of its own and it tearing up my cheek every time I chew food or speak for that matter. I also explained my perfectly rational irrational fear of dentists.

They scheduled me for an appointment on Friday morning. I can make it till then-barely. At present, I am taking 4 Advil twice a day to kill the pain in my cheek and following it with a Benzocane gel chaser. It’s only two days away. I can manage.

It is bothersome enough at this point that I am actually looking forward to going to the dentist and hopefully that he can simply extract the tooth then and there. Kelly seems to think he will have to refer me to an oral surgeon which, to someone with my peculiar affliction, sounds about as appealing as a plague of boils. Let’s just hope he can take care of it there in the office.

So if I seem unusually nervous, giddy, chatty, quiet, excited, reserved, grumpy or silly over the next couple of days, you will forgive me, won’t you?


* I only have 3 wisdom teeth and that is, apparently, genetic. The two lower wisdom teeth never came in. The upper right tooth is missing, a genetic blessing. The upper left one is finally dancing the twist and shout. I learned this more than a decade ago when I had a very excellent dentist who was sensitive to my affliction and treated me accordingly (“Grow up!” he’d say.)