Wisdom Teeth

So I had my wisdom teeth removed this afternoon at my local dentist. They had been bothering me (teeth ache, ear pain, you name it) and I had been putting this off for literally several years, but finally it came time to just get it done. And in the end, it was very minor. If you’re interested in a first-hand account, read on for more detail.

Photo: My wisdom teeth (alas I was not allowed to keep them)

I have a problem with dentists (and doctors). Having spent a long time in hospital once with a rare blood disorder that could have killed me, I’ve never quite gotten comfortable with medical stuff. I can’t even go into a dentist’s office if I don’t know exactly what they’re going to do (usually by reading in very specific levels of detail beforehand, studying the chemical layout of Procaine, etc.), and am sure they’re not going to try to gas me when I’m in there. When it comes to wisdom teeth, I’d built up this assumption that the only way they would remove them is under some kind of anesthetic – very common in the US – which concerns me far more than the procedure itself. Fortunately, it’s not some weird requirement to do it that way.

Being British, my teeth are hardly my best asset at times. Like many Brits, my teeth are covered by “The Anglo Files” and I was almost allergic to the notion of gleaming whites. When I moved to the US, they needed a fair bit of work, which of course I didn’t get done. Eventually, I had a bunch of fillings and a root canal, which made things much better. But every time I went, I would get nagged about the wisdom teeth and how they were impacted and becoming quite decayed, and I would then freak myself out. About the only really good thing about my teeth is that they’re reasonably strong, and I only ever had two (upper) wisdom teeth – I’m in that small percentage of the population without lower wisdom teeth to begin with. That’s a good thing – lower wisdom teeth can be a lot more of a pain in the ass.

Eventually, I decided it was just a good idea to have it done, so I scheduled today’s appointment. I had a filling and two extractions, and I have to say that the filling was more involved than the extractions! I’d built this thing up in my head – in part because of the absolute nutticisms in the States over wisdom teeth and how everyone seems to get actual hospital surgery for this stuff as a weird kind of “right of passage” right before going to college – but the actual procedure was only a couple of minutes, relatively comfortable, and less annoying than a root canal. And for the record, a root canal is not as bad as you might think that it is. The older expressions were born before we had really good dentists and pain treatment.

So anyway. The dentist shoved some things into the gap between the teeth and bone, wiggled (technical term used), and then yanked each tooth, first the top right, and then the top left. The top right one came out easily, the top left took a few more tools and a bit of hard yanking to persuade it to come out. Both teeth really were quite decayed, and I’m hoping they really were the cause of a lot of the hassles I’ve had. I asked the dentist to write me a prescription for my favorite antibiotic just in case, in order to avoid infection, and then I headed home (via the pharmacy). At this point, I can feel my mouth again, and I’m on regular over-the-counter stuff for pain, but it seems not a huge deal so far. I’ll relax and hope it isn’t much worse tomorrow.

No free lollipop at the end, but a very happy patient, who is glad that this is all done with. If you’ve been putting this stuff off for years too, I hope the least I can do is convince you that I really am the worst patient and I didn’t think it was that bad. I recommend just getting them whipped out one Friday, if you’re concerned.

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