June 19, 2010

Sweet tooth

Good riddance

“I don’t do extractions,” the dentist said to me. “You need to go to an oral surgeon.”

An abscess had formed under one of my wisdom teeth, and I’d been in pain for almost a week, and at that point, I didn’t really care who pulled the damned tooth out. If the dentist had suggested tying a string to the tooth and attaching it to a door handle, I would have agreed.

But I liked the idea of an oral surgeon. An expert. I figured that an oral surgeon would have some kind of high-tech way of removing the problem tooth.

The office was well-lit and sterile, with a whole wall of equipment to my left and a high counter to my right. An assistant in a white lab coat brought out two trays of sterile instruments, discreetly hidden under paper cloth. “You want to be sedated?” asked Oral Surgeon. “Or shall we try this with novocaine?”

I assured him that I wanted to stay awake and watch the procedure. I find medical or dental techniques fascinating. My midwife taught me to do my own urinalysis because I liked figuring out my sugar levels. The aides at the nursing home where my aunt lived used to let me help out when they’d change her catheter. And I got to see all kinds of cool procedures during my husband’s last kidney stone episode. I’m the kind of person who is always curious to see how things work.

The novocaine took affect pretty quickly, and the throbbing pain of the abscess disappeared. It was the best I’d felt in days. Next time I have a toothache, I’m buying some novocaine on the street.

Then the oral surgeon took a pair of pliers and yanked the tooth out. Yep, really. That was the entire procedure.

“Seriously?” I said to him as he was trying to stuff gauze into my mouth. “A pair of pliers? You went to grad school for that?”

He laughed. “See, doing it right makes it look simple. If I’d botched it up, it would have become a complicated procedure.”

“Can I have the tooth?” I asked. I figured I’d show it to the little neighbor children. They were always showing me THEIR teeth.

The nurse shrugged and wrapped it up for me. “Going to put it under your pillow?”

“No, but maybe I’ll take a photo for my blog.”


Anonymous said...


Tall Kate said...

I had two wisdom teeth removed that way: novocaine, pliers, lots of gauze and some advil. It was over in 10 minutes. I was amazed. (But I did feel lucky--there are so many horror stories!!) Wish I'd had the presence of mind to ask for my teeth, though.

patrick said...

I have taken pride that I still have all my wisdom teeth... all of my teeth, actually, but I'm sure it won't be long before I have to have a couple taken out. I'm not looking forward to the subsequent bridgework that likely will need to be done.

Rana said...

I managed to hold onto my wisdom teeth up until grad school, and then they all had to come out at once. It's the only time I was ever put under for something - a very strange experience.

Kait W. said...

It's good that you kept it. My dentist would charge a "toxic disposal fee" if they kept it.

I've had teeth removed before, but not wisdom teeth - I actually don't have any and am not going to get them.

Cathy said...

I have all of my wisdom teeth, but I think one of mine is causing me some trouble.

I would have have asked for some "I don't care medicine" ALONG with the novocaine. Better living through chemistry.

AnnetteK said...

Once I got to assist on a thyroid biopsy - I was a receptionist in an endocrinologist's office and the nurses were out that day and he needed help. It was pretty cool - I think you would have like that. :)

Magpie said...

I watched while they did a biopsy of a lump on my breast. I still remember what the pea sized benign tumor looked like - and the surgeon showing it to someone and describing it as "fish flesh" - pearly white - I piped up with "like sushi?".

I'm glad you kept your tooth. It's yours, after all.

diber said...

Yea, I had a tooth-sized CROWBAR for an extraction. WOuld've preferred the pliers. I like watching medical procedures, too. But I staggered out of the office that time. Glad it's over and done with.

justin said...

"Alas, poor Tooth! I knew it well".

Kyla said...

Nice photo.

I like learning these things, too. I figure with all the things I've had to learn for KayTar, I'll have a tiny edge when I start med school! ;)