My Dental Adventures: Extraction of the Wisdom Teeth
In the fifth movie of Mission Impossible, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) gets captured and wakes up in a locked room. A man walks in with a briefcase, which, when opened, contains a plethora of knives, hammers, drills, and very sharp scissors. As Tom Cruise looks at the knives, his eyes widen.
This was closely analogous to an experience I had a week and a half ago. I walked into the office of my oral surgeon, only to find a terrifying display of what looked like medieval torture devices but were more likely to be various surgical instruments. But while Tom Cruise escapes having his innards carved out by Janik Vinter, the so-called "Bone Doctor," in a suspenseful chase scene, I was confident that I would have no such luck escaping my own sort of bone doctor. As I sat in the chair and an oxygen tube was jammed up my nose, I pondered the logistics of getting four teeth forcibly carved out of my mouth.
I tried to avoid looking at the tray of tools. Looking up, there was no television on the dentist's ceiling, but rather a light shining into my eyes. I did not receive complimentary sunglasses like the orthodontist usually does, meaning there was nothing to shield me from the invasive rays burning into my eyes. Luckily, I didn’t have to bear this burden for much longer, because I was stuck with a needle.
Now, having been in and out of the hospital three times for pneumonia, I’ve had my fair share of IVs (a tube put into your arm so that they can give you anesthetics or blood or whatever). And I can tell you that the assistant at the office of my oral surgeon either wasn’t particularly experienced at giving needles or else just wasn’t a gentle soul, because while normal IVs feel like a little pinch, that felt like I was a pincushion subject to someone aggressively attempting to punch a needle through me. The doctor said he would give me something that would make me feel more “relaxed,” or as it turned out, more unconscious, and I don’t remember anything after that.
When I woke up, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck or other large vehicle. Not because of an overwhelming amount of pain, but I guess there was a similar sensation of lying down, looking up, and feeling really really not great. Gauze was stuffed in my mouth and there was a little blood dribbling down my chin.
After that, my mother drove me home and I promptly took a nap. This turned out to be a very bad idea, because it meant that when I woke up, my numbing had worn off, but I hadn’t taken any pain medication because I hadn’t eaten anything. My jaw throbbed with pain until I gulped down some soup and took my prescription ibuprofen. It took about a half hour for the relief to come back. The napping resumed. The next few days was a foggy journey of soup and sleep. In the earlier days, I had to brush my teeth very frequently, and whenever I did so, it looked like someone died in the sink.
Funnily enough, when WebMDing the recovery time for wisdom teeth, people seemed to think that going back to work/school the day after wisdom teeth surgery was a good idea. I assure you that this is not in fact the case, because the day after I was still drowsy off of my prescription painkillers, lethargic after not eating anything but soup, and the swelling hadn’t even peaked.
Speaking of which, the swelling peaked at around three days in before it started coming down. I decided to go to school on day four, and my friends teased me relentlessly for looking like a chipmunk. One of my friends thought it would be amusing if he made chipmunk faces at me for a full forty-five minutes during social studies. I think the only moderately creative insult I heard was that when I attempted to smile, I looked like a deranged rodent, but that was a little vicious for my enjoyment.
Over time, the left side of my mouth healed up quite nicely. For the right side, however, things weren’t going to be quite as easy. Luckily, I didn’t get infected or have dry socket or nerve damage or the multitude of other complications that can arise according to Google. Despite that, the right side of my mouth was “difficult” in the words of my oral surgeon, because apparently I have a small jaw (I find this surprising because this doesn’t seem to prevent me from talking as much as humanly possible).
Fast forwarding to this Tuesday, I went for a follow-up appointment with my beloved oral surgeon. The purpose of this appointment was apparently for him to poke the holes in my gums with what I felt were unnecessarily sharp instruments, so that was unpleasant. Post-follow-up appointment, I felt worse than I did before. He also gave me a handy kit of tools, so that I could recreate the joys of dental torture at home whenever I pleased.
Despite how unpleasant having to stick a syringe into my mouth every two hours is, it apparently worked, because I’m not infected nor in a lot of pain. The inside of my mouth at least on my left looks as nice as the inside of one’s mouth can possibly look, which is not that nice but still better than having bloody gauze stuffed in.
All that being said, the overall experience wasn't at all horrible. Aside from sparing moments of pain, the recovery wasn't unpleasant, because I spent it watching the Harry Potter movies recently put onto Netflix (would recommend). Having heard multiple horror stories about dental surgery from my peers, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.