Friday, April 06, 2007

ouch, part 2

Now that I'm feeling a little better, it's time to go into more detail about that horrible dental procedure. Ok, for starters, the dentist himself and all his assistants were actually awesome. I sort of have a phobia regarding dental work, which is why I was in the position to need a tooth pulled; I hadn't been to a dentist in years. I had a root canal done on one of my molars years ago when I was a kid, and about a year and a half ago, the crown fell off. I didn't do anything about it then, because it didn't hurt, so I thought, "Why bother?" Here's why I should have bothered: about two weeks ago, the gums around that tooth started to hurt a tiny bit. And then a week ago, it hurt a lot. To the point that I was up all night last Wednesday night, unable to sleep from the pain. It sucked. Made an appointment, went in last Monday, and was told the root canal tooth needed to go. I just wanted the damn thing to stop hurting, so getting it pulled sounded good to me.

Until two days later, when I had to go have it done.

He pumped so much novocaine into my mouth, and I honestly didn't feel anything but movement and pressure. However, the tooth just wouldn't come out, despite the fact that he repeatedly wrapped his arm around my head for leverage and was just pulling with all his might. And when he knelt on the edge of my chair to get a different angle, it still wouldn't come out. Then, he put down his tools, leaned back in his own chair, and stretched his arms, letting out a long sigh. That's when I heard him say something to his assistant about getting "the high-speed." I thought, "that can't be good." It wasn't. It was a little dental electric saw he used to cut the tooth into tiny sections. Isn't that considered an effective form of torture in most places? For the next stretch of time, he would saw a little, pull a little, saw a little, pull a little. Meanwhile, the assistant was on my other side with the water and suction things in my mouth. At one point, a little jet of water ricocheted off something in my mouth (by then, it could have been anything from a tooth, to the dentist's watch, to a bulldozer) and smacked me in the face. The dentist stopped for a second and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry the water got you. Didn't mean to bother you like that." I thought, "Yeah, it's not the water that's bothering me. It's the damned power tool you're using to section my tooth! You're sawing my tooth into sand, and you apologize for splashing me with some water?" But of course, with four hands and a toolbox in my mouth, I didn't actually speak.

And yet. As a testament to their reassuring and calm demeanor, as well as to the power of novocaine, I still managed to laugh a couple times. There is a tv in each room, which was a fabulous method of distraction for me. It was on a panel connected to the chair and within arm's reach, so I could theoretically change the channel or adjust the volume to cover up the sounds coming from the tools hitting my teeth. However, I had the arms of the chair in some kind of death grip and didn't let go the whole time, so I left the tv on Comedy Central, on a re-run of the show Scrubs, to be exact. I tried to focus on the show for diversion, and actually laughed at some of the lines. But then, so did the dentist. I tried not to be concerned that he was paying attention to tv while pulling my tooth.

In the end, it took almost an hour and a half to get that tooth out. Ninety minutes to yank out one tooth.

After my mouth finally gave up the tooth, they stuck a bunch of gauze in my mouth, gave me a ton extra to take home with me, and then he loaded me up with prescriptions and instructions. He actually said to me, "You're going to be in pain for a while after the numbness wears off." Since in my experience, dentists lie about the level of pain to expect, minimizing it, I was shocked to hear him be to blunt. But damn, he was right. Fortunately, among other things, he prescribed a big bottle of vicodin. Nice. I slept well that night.

I'm still in some pain, and the gap in the back of my mouth feels foreign to me, and I suppose it will take a while to get used to it. But at least it's done. Despite the fact that if I think too hard about what he had to do in order to get that tooth out I want to faint, this was the least horrific dental experience I've ever had, simply because of the friendliness of the entire staff there. Seriously, they were fantastic, while I was a basket case. On the other hand, the dentist looked just like Bobby Lee from Mad TV, and when I watched part of an old episode a little while ago and saw him, I had some sort of pavlovian response to his face that made me want to hold my mouth closed and cringe in fear.


At April 07, 2007 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just puked a little in my mouth.

That sounded so horrific, I know your an Enligh major but damm did you have to be that descriptive?

**running of to restroom now

At April 07, 2007 5:13 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Yay! I succeeded!


Actually, I'm getting some strange sense of satisfaction from grossing people out with the details of that experience. Weird, I know.


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