Monday, April 29, 2013

Giving Up Some Wisdom

Had the third of my four wisdom teeth extracted today. I'm fine, thanks for asking, but I really wish the blood would stop oozing out of the hole now in my upper right jaw bone.

All in all, the procedure was pretty painless and done quite professionally by the specialist my dentist referred me to. The oral surgeon reassured me he would not do a cartoon-like extraction. That is, he would not press a knee on my chest for greater leverage to yank out my tooth. After numbing me up with several Novocain shots, he rocked the tooth back and forth to loosen it up before pulling it out.

Last time I had a wisdom tooth removed my former dentist did it himself. It was a lower left side tooth. It might have gone easily if one of the roots had not broken off and remained locked in my jaw. The dentist tried and tried to get it out to no avail other than my discomfort. He finally gave up, saying it didn't really matter. He wished me good luck and cautioned that if I experienced any pain I should call the dentist who would be covering for him during his vacation which would begin as soon as he closed his office that day.

That night while sleeping the blot clot over the vacant tooth area dripped out onto my pillow. That morning I started to feel a throbbing pain. I thought it was the aftereffects of the dentist trying to root out the recalcitrant part of my tooth. For the next two days I alternated Tylenol and ibuprofen to ease the pain. Finally I couldn't take it any longer and contacted the on-call dentist. He knew right away I had developed a dry socket, a sensitivity to air on the extraction spot. As soon as he put a slight amount of cement on the site the pain subsided.

My first wisdom tooth was removed when I was in college and followed a script eerily similar to what today’s oral surgeon said he would not do. Our family dentist, a man of about 5’ 8”,  couldn’t get the right leverage to easily pull out the tooth from the upper left side of the jaw. While he didn’t get on top of me, he did bring over a stepstool to get a better angle. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

At one time in my life I toyed with the idea of becoming a dentist. It made my parents happy. But my heart really wasn’t into it. Nor were my grades. D’s in organic chemistry and biology quickly disabused me of the idea of a life of putting my fingers into people’s mouths. I can’t say I regretted that decision.

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