A dental saga

As I am feeling like less of an emotional wreck and far more of a physical one, I will take this time to moan about my wisdom teeth being savagely yanked from my mouth. Like most people, I am not a fan of the dentist. We had pretty crappy insurance growing up, so the dentist was a place we visited once every other year or so. It wasn’t like the doctor where I went in feeling crappy and they gave me medicine and a lollipop to make it better. No, usually I went into the dentist feeling pretty good and came out with giant puncture wounds in my gums and my mouth completely numb.

I actually only have two dental memories from my childhood. For all I know they were the only two times I went. One was when I was about seven. Unlike the song, I didn’t have to beg Santa for my front teeth. I had the opposite problem. They simply didn’t want to fall out. The permanent teeth were growing in underneath them and no matter how many times a day I thrust my tongue at them, the baby teeth refused to budge. We even tried the old string and doorknob trick. Nothing. So my mom scheduled me a dentist appointment. I’m not entirely sure this guy was an actual dentist. I mean sure, he had the fancy chair and a sink to spit in, but he also removed my teeth with what looked like giant nail clippers. Clip, clip, clip and the teeth came right out. Well, with a bit of blood and some nasty pain. I don’t even think they numbed me up first. It probably cost extra.

The second trip was much, much worse. I was in fifth grade. During a random check-up, the dentist discovered I had a cavity. Next thing I knew the right side of my mouth was so numb I was drooling and horrible sounds were coming from inside my jaw. There was whizzing and the odd smell of burning metal. The filling itself wasn’t the bad part. Sure it smelled, the shots hurt and I felt a lot of “pressure,” but I couldn’t really feel much. In fact, I couldn’t feel much for the next eight hours or so. The dentist assured my mother the numbness would wear off in an hour or so. Since it wasn’t even ten a.m., he thought I should definitely go back to school. My mom, no doubt already annoyed her daily schedule had been interrupted by my pain, sent me. The numbness did not wear off. Instead, I couldn’t feel half of my face, which meant I had no idea I was drooling. Let me tell you, there is nothing cooler than being the new kids with glasses like Sally Jesse Rapheal, dressed in a yellow jogging suit that is super tight because you are chubby and drooling. To make matters worse, when lunch time came around, I couldn’t eat the lunch my mom packed for me: leftover cold fish sticks. I was so upset. I was the last person at the lunch tables and hadn’t taken more than a bite. The lunch ladies took pity on me and offered me the school free lunch, but it was a peanut butter sandwich and some scary canned fruit, so I didn’t think it would be any better. I went hungry.

My dental disasters continued from there. I chipped a tooth on a Jolly Rancher during my sophomore year of college. Being broke and still having no insurance (what the hell did my parents do?) , I had to beg my grandmother to foot the bill. She did. Basically because of where I chipped it, the dentist told me to suck it up unless I wanted to pay for a really expensive cap that would be really noticeable and probably not very effective. Sweet.

By my senior year of college the tiny bit of extra space between my last molar and wisdom tooth was allowing food bits to get in there, so it had to be taken out. The dentist assured me it would probably be the only one that had to come out. I made the appointment and he numbed me up. He offered me laughing gas, but it was $50 extra and I still had no insurance and college bills to pay, so I passed. I was an idiot. Despite the dozen or so shots he had to give me (all of which I felt, especially the three that hit nerves directly and sent white hot electric pain through my body), I felt EVERYTHING. Pressure my ass. That was pain. He had to stop five or six times. I cried.

Afterwards my husband and a good friend wanted to go out to dinner. I figured soup at the Olive Garden would be a safe bet. No dice. I was still so numb and the gauze was packed so tightly in my mouth that I couldn’t even get the soup in my mouth. I sat and watched while they ate. I didn’t even get pain pills. Just advice to take four Advil every couple of hours until the pain went away. Oh, and a lecture on dry socket that had me terrified and in tears three days later when I realized I had taken a sip from a straw.

Since that day, I’ve had a few painful cleanings and two more cavities filled. They left me numb and unable to eat anything but a McDonald’s chocolate shake. Bad, but nothing like that first wisdom tooth.

So how does this latest dental escapade fair? Bleeding? Yes. Sore? Yes. Puffy? Yes. Laughing gas? Yes. Milkshake for dinner? Yes. Vicodin? Yes. Even though it hurts like the dickens now, the shots were the worst part of yesterday. The actual pulling of teeth had some nasty pressure, but not real pain. The narcotics every four hours really are helping, although they also make me very sleepy. It sucks not eating real food, but that’s helping my diet. I wouldn’t choose to have my teeth pulled, but it could have been so much worse.

Still, I wish I could talk normally, that I didn’t constantly feel like there was something in my mouth and that the throbbing would stop without medicine every four hours. I made it to the zoo though today, and it may have required a two hour nap afterwards, but at least I could eat my soup.

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2 Comments

Filed under bad days, food, married life, my childhood, my crazy family, nostalgia, ramblings, what makes me me

2 responses to “A dental saga

  1. missanthropy

    I feel your pain. Literally. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, I did get laughing gas, but I was hyperventilating at the time and could not breathe through my nose. I cried. It was painful. The “pressure” I felt was mostly the oral surgeon standing with a knee on my chest to hold me down. I felt him break my teeth to get them out. I ate Jell-O and pudding for three days. I was on Vicodin. I threw up quite a bit. I recommend being put under, but I’m such a control freak I had to be awake for the whole thing. Bad idea. It also took several months for me to get all the feeling back in to my face because they gave me so many shots.

  2. beetqueen

    Y0u definitely win! My teeth may hurt, but I ate steak and garlic fries today (day five after surgery) and can live fairly comfortably with only 3 Advil twice a day.

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