So, getting my wisdom teeth out wasn’t NEARLY as bad as I feared

Face it: next to an IRS audit, there are few things more feared than the dentist’s chair. As it stands, my own fear of THE CHAIR had me running from the dentists for well over a decade, until my own daughter got me to go. Of course, it wasn’t the (then) 4yo dd who got me to the dentist, it was the fact that I was requiring her to go to the dentist and I didn’t want to feel like a hypocrite.

Long story VERY short, I had braces in high school and ended up with perfect teeth for only a few days, thanks to my wisdom teeth coming up and shifting everything around seemingly moments after the brackets came off. My quack of an orthodontist never bothered to check for the wisdom teeth, not even after my teeth shifted SO QUICKLY after he took off the braces, and I pretty much abandoned dentistry and all things orthodonture-related for years after that. Call it a VERY bad experience that led to years of being on the run from dentistry.

Fast-forward to 2010, and my fear of being a hypocrite has now outweighed my fear of THE CHAIR.

I managed to sit through four quadrants of perio scaling (not fun, but highly improved by the novocaine they shoot you up with to keep you from losing your nut whilst having layers of tartar and what-have-you power-razed off). Then, I needed a tiny filling in one tooth. It’s amazing that I would manage to get through probably a good decade-and-a-half of no dentist time and come away with only needing a single filling.

And then…{cue scary music}…the referral to get my wisdom teeth out.

I went for the consult with the dental surgeon early in 2011 and was informed that because my wisdom teeth were fully erupted (meaning completely through the skin) and not impacted (which is when the wisdom teeth are pressing on or interfering with the other teeth in a really meaningful way), insurance wouldn’t cover it fully. JOY. I was on the hook for close to a grand. Uh, not this year, please.

The longer we came into the new year (2012), the more I hoped I’d put it off, but there it was: when I saw my new dentist for an annual check just a few weeks ago, she asked me when I was getting those teeth out. There’s one with a cavity, she said, and we can’t help you with it because it’s too far back. Plus, the suckers would occasionally shift (ow, teething at 39 really sucks), and they were on slightly odd angles, so I’d bite the inside of my cheek ALL THE TIME. Trust me, I had no love for these little things. But I feared THE CHAIR.

Even so, when I called the dental surgeon’s office and said, “Remember me?” they were perfectly helpful in getting me a new quote. Something about insurance carryover from the prior year and yadda yadda I only will owe about half of what I would’ve paid last year. OK – let’s do this.

I made the appointment for Thursday, September 20th. At the time, it seemed perfectly reasonable. It would turn out to be a hinge in the week – since I would rather quickly have to plan to attend my aunt’s funeral in New Jersey the night before and then come home on the 6:15am US Airways shuttle to make it home in time for the surgery. This is how I roll: either things are completely nuts or I wonder why they’re not completely nuts. It never occurred to me to put off the surgery; too many other things in the calendar were immovable, and barnstorming a quick overnighter to New Jersey is easy enough when there are shuttle flights to move you quickly, non-stop.

When I made it to the dental surgeon’s office on Thursday morning, they hooked me up with monitors and an IV (since I’d opted for sedation), and then they fitted me with a thing over my nose to get oxygen to me easily. “Breathe normally,” the nurse said. “You’ll probably start to feel a little drowsy,” the surgeon told me, as he administered something into my IV. I took a few breaths, and I remember blinking once or twice. This stuff isn’t making me drowsy at all, I thought. The next thing I knew, the nurse was offering me my zip hoodie.


Yep, the surgery was over. Whether it was the lack of sleep from the night before or just a super-strong IV med, I’d been knocked out immediately and they were done yanking my recalcitrant teeth within a half-hour.

I spent the rest of the day watching TV and chilling on the couch, although when dh headed out to get the kids I took it upon myself to make some orange Jell-O and chocolate pudding. I wasn’t even in any real pain. I applied ice as required, although at a less frequent interval than suggested, and I ignored the bottle of percocet pills dh so helpfully obtained for me from our local pharmacy. For the next several days, in fact, I’ve needed nothing stronger than ibuprofen. Even then, I’m taking two pills, not a handful.

It’s all rather odd – since I’d heard so many complete horror stories about wisdom teeth extractions. People not being able to chew for weeks. People being in massive quantities of pain. People having terrible bruising along their jawline, to the point where others thought they were in a bar brawl. People getting the wrong dose of percocet from their surgeon and needing to go cold turkey before they needed rehab. I feel…like a normal human being (albeit one with four holes in my mouth that I didn’t have a week ago).

I guess that the primary point of putting this story out there is to provide a counterpoint to the horror stories. I’m sure that my experience, like those of my friends, is unique. Not everyone has a virtually pain-free recovery from having four teeth yanked out of their head. But, apparently, not everyone ends up looking like a patient from a sanitorium in the 1700’s. So there’s that.

One thought on “So, getting my wisdom teeth out wasn’t NEARLY as bad as I feared

  1. Hooray for surviving “The Chair”! I think the worst part about getting mine removed (October 2010) was having my mom visit for a weekend. At least she took me to Starbucks for a frappucino on the way home from the surgeon! 😉 I’d wager that since your teeth had already erupted, you were spared a great deal of the pain that other people may experience. But save those percs… you might want them later!

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