I have been suffering from one particular Wisdom Tooth for years. My top left one. It has grown in on an angle, so that the sharp part actually veers out toward my cheek. For years I have growled through as it went through growth spurts, and just hope that it would fix it self eventually. (The male school of most things health related).
We all know how that ended up, right?
Well, I was on the phone about two weeks ago with Fred, when I felt something in the back of my mouth that felt like a hard piece of food or something that had dislodged. Nope. It was a piece of my crooked wisdom tooth. I freaked out at first, but then thought - well - it doesn't hurt, though....knowing that I was only putting off the inevitable.
The next day it started to hurt. I realized that it was indeed going to be an issue that just continued to get worse. So after consulting many friends and asking Dental opinions of where to go, I came to work, and my co-worker, Steven Cupo recommended his own dentist. He even called him up and told the doctor of my situation (the fact that I was an actor who couldn't afford a crazy amount of money to get this tooth out), and he said "Send him on over".
Never even having had a tooth pulled, I became terribly nervous. Several times on the way there, I thought that I might pass out. I didn't, of course, or you would be reading an even more pathetic post than this, probably from the hospital. But no, I made it there, holding my new book that I am reading (Under the Dome by Stephen King - 1100 pages and AMAZING) tightly against my body, as if it were a shield...which by it's size - it could be.
I was handed paperwork to fill out, and before I was even finished with it, to my horror the receptionist called out to me that the doctor would see me now. "But I haven't finished my paperwork!" I protested, stalling as much time as I could before the inevitable tooth sharking to follow. "You can finish it in the chair", she pleasantly chimed. She was enjoying this little fear game with me, I could tell. I began to construct nightmare scenarios in my head about being lead into what could only be an "Organ Hatching" operation, whereupon I would be gassed, my kidneys and other organs removed, then dumped on the curb somewhere in Anacostia. Sweat broke out on my forehead as I was lead to the chair.
I continued filling out my paperwork as the dentist (a very sweet man, for the record) asked me a few questions, then started rooting around in my mouth. Before I knew it, he had swabbed the area with a numbing solution and was pulling a needle out. My hands gripped the handles of the chair. I could barely feel the needle, nor the two that followed as his injections continued around my wreck of a tooth. He told me to finish up my paperwork as he waited for the Novocaine to go to work. Country music gently played over the sound system as I did this. I laughed to myself, thinking of the irony of my current situation juxtaposed with the singer on the radio telling of cool breezes and country hills. The Dentist had left my cubicle and gone to the next and I soon heard the unmistakable sound of a drill roaring to life. My stomach suddenly felt like it got invaded by army ants.
Soon it was time for the procedure to start, and I told the dentist at the last minute that I had never had a tooth pulled, never even had an oral shot, and was terribly scared. My rationale at this point was that maybe, just maybe the dentist had some Zanex tucked away in the office, offer it to me, and then I could drift away on happy thoughts as he wrenched my tooth out. No such luck. He told me that there was nothing to be afraid of, that he would go slow, and that I would just feel some pressure, scraping and digging. "That sounds delightful", I managed. My hands gripped the handles of the chair doubly hard.
The procedure began, and yes, I started to feel something - I could feel a tiny bit of pain. I told him immediately, and he gave me another shot. He then put an instrument in my mouth that looked like the scythe that the grim reaper carries around. "Does this hurt?" he would ask as he scraped the thing in my soon to be ex-tooth's gum-dock. "No.." I would say in a small and tentative voice, knowing what was coming next. "How about this?", he said, grunting as he did. Pressure and digging sensations from my left cheek began. "no..." I mustered. I felt two inches tall. "And this?", he asked while really starting to apply leverage to the tooth. I felt like my face was going to cave in, but it was just that pressure that I felt, no real pain. But I have to say, the sounds reverberating through your jaw bones as the scraping and digging are happening is enough to drive you insane. Your mind imagines what a murder scene that your mouth must look like, and your imagination (especially mine) can be a dangerous thing.
He was really grunting and hefting at this point, and I began to see him as a fisherman in a small boat trying to reel in a Blue Whale. I kept thinking - "I just don't want to taste my own blood - if I have to taste my own blood while my mouth is being held open, I will throw up. As if reading my thoughts, he asked his assistant for "suction" and the blood that was indeed flowing was sucked up. My knuckles were whiter than white. Every muscle in my body was tensed and flexed as he finally wrenched the tooth to freedom. I made a grunt of relief as they finished up in there. "All done." he said with little fanfare. "Was that hard to come out?" I asked, thinking of the epic pressure and grunting put out on his part. "No, not at all.", he said very matter of fact. The whole thing took about two minutes total from when he started the tooth extraction process. Of course, it felt like 2 hours.
It has been over a week now since the procedure, and I am well healed at this point, and thankful to be rid of the little deserter of a tooth. I am also relieved at the last bit of information that he gave me before sending me on my way. He told me that all of my other teeth looked to be in good shape, and that my three other wisdom teeth were coming in fine, and looked to have plenty of room to come in. So at least for now, it feels good to know that my dental outlook is good.
The recovery was interesting, however. I was warned by the dentist, as well as many others about the danger of the dreaded "DRY SOCKET". This dental condition was such a boogie man in my mind as friends upon friends told me tales of how they got it. One of which seemed the least obvious to me -touching your tongue to the spot. I never even thought of that, and at once, my tongue moved into an efficiency apartment on the right side of my mouth, not wanting anything to do with the left side. I chewed on the right side of my mouth only, and usually with my head tilted to the right. I must have looked like an inquisitive dog while eating for best part of a week. While I have not touched my tongue to the "area" yet, and am determined not to if I can at all help it, my eating habits have remained fairly the same, with most of the chewing still happening on the right. Brushing my teeth has become a longer process, as I operate the brush with the precision of a surgeon around the left upper side of my mouth. I actually called the dentist on Monday to see if I could go back to the gym, even though it had not been one week, as going to the gym was on the list of things that could cause "DRY SOCKET". He very nonchalantly said, "Oh sure. You're done now."..."but it hasn't been a full week..", I interjected..."Yeah, but if you were going to get it, you would have by now.", he stated.
And so I went to the gym. And all is now seemingly back to normal. My tongue isn't quite back to it's pole position as master of my mouth, it has traded it's small right side efficiency for what I like to think of as a "Half-way house". Going through this process, I have faced a life long fear, and come through it fine. And while my teeth themselves are none the wiser, I would like to think that I am.