On Monday, November 10th, I took my first trip to the dentist in over ten years, and my first trip to an oral surgeon ever. I decided to blog a brief recollection of that morning …
For a long time, I’ve had this tooth all the way in the back of my mouth, where I couldn’t really brush it properly. Eventually, it decayed and a chunk of the enamel wore away, or more likely, chipped off, exposing the soft juicy insides of the tooth. Surprisingly, this resulted in very little pain or discomfort, so I just let it go. I figured, perhaps it’d decay enough to become loose and I’d just pull the bugger out.
Well, after what I’m guessing is a couple of years, the tooth finally decided it was time to come out. Of course, it had its own ideas about how it was going to come out: not the easy way by becoming loose and having me tug the sucker out of my mouth, oh no, nothing that easy. It felt as though it was pushing against the only adjacent tooth, causing every other tooth in my head to ache. The pain was so incredible that I was taking Aleve (a form of pain-killer incorporating naproxen and sodium as the active ingredients) every 8 hours for three or four days straight. The pain was bad enough that I actually woke up with my teeth throbbing in the middle of the night and I’m a very deep sleeper.
So, this past Monday, November 10th, I did something I haven’t done in over ten years. I went and saw a dentist. For those who know me, they know how much I dislike going to doctors and dentists (thus, why I hadn’t been to a dentist in over ten years), but this pain was absolutely unbearable any longer. I said to my tooth in my best Spaghetti Western voice, “Partner, this mouth just ain’t big enough for the two of us.”
Fortunately for me, the dentist was willing to see me first thing on Monday morning at 10:00 AM — basically, he would squeeze me in before his normally scheduled appointments for the day. He chatted with me for two or three minutes, then examined my teeth. He saw that awful tooth that’s been conspiring with my other teeth for the past several days, and without hesitation, told me that it would have to come out. Yay! I was so nervous he’d suggest trying to save it with a root canal or some other ridiculousness. No, he agreed, it’d have to come out, and that he would refer me to an oral surgeon.
An oral surgeon?! Wow, this is getting serious. If you can believe it, I’ve never been to an oral surgeon before in my life. I had no idea what kind of medieval torture to expect. I couldn’t help imagining some dingy little office with some crazy old guy with a tray full of assorted metal torture devices making corny tooth jokes. Well, as luck would have it, my dentist referred me to an oral surgeon and had his receptionist call their receptionist while I was there and found out that they could see me right away. I got directions to their office and away I went.
I can’t begin to describe the number of thoughts — some totally wacky, most just paranoid — that went through my mind as I drove the four minute drive over. I was more than just nervous, I was a wreck. I smoked a cigarette in the car thinking to myself, “This might be the last cigarette I smoke for a few days, depending on how painful it is to smoke after this …” — everything was deliberate. I couldn’t believe how irrational I was being about this whole thing, but I was, and I couldn’t help it.
To cut a very long story short, the nurse who prepared me (I believe she was Russian or Ukranian) was excellent at making me feel more at ease, and the surgeon was excellent that too. All in all, I was treated better by these folks than I’ve ever been treated by any medical professional I’ve ever been a patient of.
During the actual tooth extraction, the doctor told me what was going on — which is a very important thing for me, which I find most doctors can’t be bothered to do since they’re so busy. He has a very steady hand, and made what I thought would be an intolerable process of administering Novocaine into something that I almost enjoyed: I felt six light pinches on the surface of my gums, and it was all over. I couldn’t believe how painless it actually was. Once the anesthesia was in full effect, they started on the extraction. He told me to close my eyes, that I’d feel some pressure, and to relax. After what seemed like fourty seconds or so of pressure which I couldn’t really feel except by the force it exerted on my neck, the tooth was out. It was over.
What’s so amazing is that even after the tooth was out and the Novocaine wore off, my mouth felt great! The horrible pain I was feeling the previous few days was totally gone, and the wound in my gum from the missing tooth didn’t even hurt! It was incredible. I was so thrilled. This went as well as it could possibly have gone, even more than I could have imagined.
Curious what the tooth looks like? I asked if I could keep it and they put it in a little green plastic thing and sent me home with it. If you want to see it …
(don’t click on the link yet, I haven’t put the picture up yet.)