Dental Update: Updated!

Update: Oh my fucking god, y’all. You know how I said in my first post about this that it usually rights itself after a few days?

Guess what.

Woke up this morning and realized I can bite down again. There’s still a little tenderness around the tooth that was driving me bats, but it’s not horrid, screaming pain anymore. It must have just been pressing right on a nerve for the last couple days, and now it’s not. I really do marvel at the body’s ability to fix itself sometimes.

Me: You’re not gonna believe this. My tooth doesn’t hurt anymore.

Al: Really?

Me: Uh-huh. 

Al: Well, now that that’s over… I’ve been wanting to talk to you about our relationship.

Me: WHAT? 

Al: Just kidding.

Me: I hate you.

Al: But I loooove you! 

So this means I have to go to this consultation with the oral surgeon today minus the motivating pain, which means I have to make a rational decision about having teeth yanked. And if I could make a rational decision about having teeth yanked, I wouldn’t have any wisdom teeth right now. Terrific.


Thanks for all the advice, everybody. I have an appointment with an oral surgeon tomorrow. I tried to eat a piece of bread today, accidentally clacked my top and bottom teeth together, and was in teary pain for like half an hour afterwards. That was me crossing the threshold between “Extraction would still be worse than this” and “I’m about to tie this tooth to a fucking doorknob and slam it.”

It’s only one tooth causing me terrible pain right now, but all of my wisdom teeth are impacted. One’s broken halfway through and stayed that way for years, and my dentists have been reasonably pleased with my skill at keeping it from becoming a bacteria farm. Two haven’t broken through at all, and have never bothered me. The tooth in question is actually the closest to being normal; it’s almost as long as the one next to it and only slightly crooked. But something shifted in there, and the motherfucker is now crowding the other teeth and/or pounding right on a nerve. As much as I love soup and smoothies, I would like to be able to chew again someday.

I’m sure they’ll want to take all four out, but I don’t think that’s happening. A) I don’t have dental insurance, and that’d be bloody expensive. B) I am a big baby. And yes, I understand that having them all out at once would mean I never have to go though this again, and not having them all out means I probably will go through this again, when I’m even older and slower to heal, but C) I am also not very bright sometimes.

Aaaanyway. Tomorrow’s just a “consultation,” but I fully expect it will result in scheduling an extraction a.s.a.p. Which means I fully expect (nay, demand) to be in a Vicodin haze through the weekend and possibly into next week. Also, I’m not going to be able to smoke, so my strategy is going to be to sleep as much as possible. MAYBE the upside of this will be that I quit smoking for real. Or maybe I’ll just be a dopey, insufferable mess for several days, then go right back to the status quo.

I wore my yogatard all day today, because I felt too crappy to deal with more than one item of clothing. Between that and the sparkling personality I’m likely to have post-extraction, I will be a lucky, lucky woman if Al and I are still together by the end of next week.

Posting-wise, I’ll do what I can.

Comments are open for voting on whether I should go for nitrous or the K.O. I’m leaning toward the latter.

34 thoughts on “Dental Update: Updated!”

  1. I had my wisdom teeth out and being knocked out was the worst part by far. I felt sick from it the whole rest of the day. But I’ve never tried nitrous so I don’t know if it would be better or worse.

  2. i had my wisdom teeth out last year, and comparatively, i’d rather do that six or seven more times than have my teeth cleaned by the hygienist ever again.

    (you may get a few scary wisdom teeth stories, so i just wanted to tell my good wisdom teeth story.)

  3. So far I’ve only had one wisdom tooth removed. That was in the chair, and it basically involved enough local anaesthesia to drown a rat, and me demonstrating that I have some python somewhere back in the ancestry by damn near unhinging my jaw. It was the one on the upper left side, and it came in fairly straight, which was why it could be pulled out without too much effort. About the only other one which came in even vaguely straight is the one on the lower right. So far none of them have been giving me gyp, which means they’re staying where they are for the moment.

  4. Thanks, Betsyl! Naturally, when I googled, I found this, so it’s awesome to hear a good story!

    I’m hoping the fact that the one giving me trouble is the most, uh, developed (?) of my wisdom teeth means it won’t be as brutal as having one of the non-erupted ones taken out. Fingers crossed.

  5. Aaaaand, my own comment above just got caught in the spam filter, so my prediction from earlier today is coming true. Swell.

    It was the one on the upper left side, and it came in fairly straight, which was why it could be pulled out without too much effort.

    Meg, that’s exactly the tooth that’s bugging me, and it also came in fairly straight, so WOO HOO. (Also, my other semi-erupted one is the lower right. We must be twins!)

  6. As a preface, I am the hugest, bawliest, wimpiest baby on earth when it comes to my mouth. I literally cannot get Novocaine shots without winding up sobbing, and I am a grown woman. When I developed a cavity earlier this year, I paid a non-plan dentist the financial equivalent of a firstborn child to do a special, presumably magical, water-based drilly thing that didn’t require any anesthetic, because I simply cannot handle needles or pain in my mouth.

    And you know what? I had four impacted wisdom teeth removed all at once, and I’m here to tell you, Kate — it wasn’t bad at all. Seriously. They knocked me out, they gave me Vicodin, I woke up woozy and slept a lot, and I took my Vicodin religiously until my mouth stopped aching, the end. The worst thing about the entire experience — again, quite literally — was that either the anesthesia or the Vicodin dehydrated me like crazy, so I had a vicious hangover for about a day and a half. Drink lots and lots and LOTS of water before and after, go for the knockout juice, and don’t stress. The stress will end up being worse than the removal.

  7. For me, the worst thing about wisdom tooth extraction wasn’t the pain. That was fairly minimal, considering I had to have all four of them out at the same time and looked like a cross between Alvin Chipmunk and Eric Stoltz in Mask afterwards. The worst thing was having to keep gauze and cotton in my mouth, what with my killer gag reflex! If you don’t have that problem and it’s only one tooth, it probably won’t be too bad. Definitely an improvement over dental pain, which is way underrated as a form of torture.

  8. Go for the K.O., this is one experience you don’t want to remember. When I had mine out they told me that the surgery was covered by my insurance, but if I wanted anesthesia it would be $500. I still hate insurance companies but I’m happy I spent the cash.

    It’s been a while, but I remember about 12 hours of abject misery followed by a couple of days of dull aches, more from my jaw being cranked all the way open during the surgery than from the extraction specifically.

    Finally, I will now bestow upon you the best advice I ever got about icing after surgery – keep a six pack of soda in the fridge, and rotate them out a can at a time to hold against your face to keep the swelling down. They stay cold for a while, but not cold enough to really hurt, they don’t have pointy edges like ice cubes, and they’re not going to sweat and melt all over your bed when you’re lying there in a dopey stupor.

  9. Ouchie :( Hopefully you’ll heal super quick and won’t remember a thing.

    This never comes up in casual conversation so I’d just like to point out that my wisdom teeth never grew in. There are “bone stubs” there but no teeth. I guess my mouth is too small. Or I’m not very wise!

  10. I had mine out — one side by a terrible dentist who veritably put his foot on my chair & attempted to yank like he was from the 17th Century. It was terrible & I looked like a chipmunk for a week.

    Which I tell you only because when I went to a different doctor for the other side — an oral surgeon — I was put completely under (general anesthesia), felt very minimal pain afterwards, no swelling, got some good drugs that I didn’t really even need …

    So hopefully in your case, thinking about it will be the worst part.


  11. I had all four out in February. They had all grown in fine, no pain, but they kept getting cavities, and I didn’t want to deal with it at age fifty, like my dad did. After years of putting it off, I finally bit the bullet. Remarkably, I’ve had many dental adventures far worse than getting my wisdom teeth out.

    I was knocked out completely. I barely noticed what happened. When I got home I slept on my couch for about five hours with my dog. Then I woke up, changed the gauze, and took pups for a walk. I cleaned the holes twice a day and had no problems. I think I only took one Vicodin. That being said, my friend didn’t clean his holes properly and his entire head swelled in infection. I learned from his mistake.

  12. Re: the insurance.

    Kate, I don’t know if you have regular health insurance, but if you do, you might want to check with that company. Oral surgery sometimes falls under the category of “surgery” rather than “dentistry” … on the off-chance that you’ve got some coverage, might be worth looking into.

    I had all 4 of mine out at once. Only two were impacted. I got the “twilight” gas, so I was semi-conscious. No pain at all, and then I just took the painkillers for a couple of days and never had a problem. In the end, it was a lot less painful than the teeth were pre-removal.

    Good luck!!

  13. I only took one Vicodin and that was on arrival home afterwards. It’s a very constipating medication, so take some precautions if you are going to be on it for days. I’m thinking fruit or soluble fiber in a smoothie, for example.

    Maybe nicotine patches would help you in coping afterwards. It all depends on your feelings about going cold turkey, though.

    No matter what, you’ll have a tale to tell! Hang in there. The pain afterwards is nothing like the pain that puts you in the chair.

  14. I too had all four out at once, general anesthesia. Highly recommend it. Icing the face afterwards is the key (I didn’t use pop cans, but that sounds like a good idea); it keeps swelling down and minimizes pain. The only meds I needed afterward were Advil.

    But I guess that means you’re not up for Andrew Bird this weekend?

  15. i swear, I must be the only person in the world whose wisdom teeth actually fit in my mouth and came in straight. I feel like an evolutionary throwback.

  16. And Kate, put me down for “wisdom teeth weren’t a big deal, you’ll be fine.” I’ve had teeth out both with and without the KO, and both were fine as long as I got plenty of attention from the dentist; when I had some teeth out with novocaine on a busy morning, the novocaine had time to wear off before the dentist got to me, and that? Was excruciating. I was supposed to have four teeth out but refused to continue after two; everyone thought I was a huge whiny baby and was angry at me until we went back for the other two, at which point I was so amazed that I couldn’t feel them being ripped from my skull that people finally clued in that I’d been in massive pain the previous time.

    I’ll try to post while you’re off in a haze.

  17. Thanks for the help, everybody! As you can see from the updated post, it’s not quite as pressing (hyuk hyuk) an issue anymore. ARGH.

    Sweet Machine, I’ve had about enough of your bragging, young lady! Skinny, big boobs, STRAIGHT WISDOM TEETH… What the hell are you doing in the body acceptance movement? :)

    Celeste, I’m definitely considering the patch for the recovery period.

  18. I may be late, but I JUST dealt with wisdom tooth nonsense this summer – at age 26, after years of similar periodic pain and no health insurance. I chewed cloves like a maniac while I was a tour guide and needed to keep my jaw wagging (it’s a natural anesthetic). Actually, I got my wisdom teeth taken out in three separate episodes (one for a painful infection, then the last three in two separate surgeries – my dentist’s recommendation) so I should be an expert. ; ) These are my votes:
    1. Get them out. Now. Don’t wait for it to hurt again, you’re just fucking up your mouth.
    2. But… try to get them out during a period of time when you don’t have that much to do, cause you may feel like shit afterward.
    3. Ask your dentist if you really really need surgery or if he can extract. My two bottom teeth were impacted, but my dentist assured me he could just “move the bone” and yank those suckers out. Apparently he could. It was less expensive.
    4. I wouldn’t recommend nitrous. I used it when I got my first tooth out, and I hate hate hate the way it makes me feel. But I didn’t get KO either… since all of mine ended up being extractions, impacted or no, I just had three shots of novacaine per tooth and didn’t feel a thing.
    5. I did, however, feel LOTS of pain afterward on my very last extraction… because (I was very surprised to hear this) I had it done while I was ovulating. Seriously. Estrogen apparently makes healing more difficult, and having your teeth out then might make you a candidate for dry socket – which I didn’t have, but it did take forever for that last hole to fill in and stop aching. You should totally ask you dentist or look it up.

    Way more info than you asked for!

  19. I’m really glad that the pain is not as bad as it was! I find it really hard to make decisions while I’m in pain. Physical and emotional . . .

    Good luck!

  20. I’m with Tangle. Get them out now (or when you aren’t in horrid pain) and you’ll be so much better off. As for anesthetic I say K.O. all the way. I do not react well to general anesthesia and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I had all four out at once and I don’t regret that decision at all. Hurty mouth is not a good thing.

  21. Naw, Fillyjonk, this was definitely the tooth itself. Like I said, it’s happened before, just never so excruciatingly. Every couple years, one of them moves around, then calms down. Sometimes the non-erupted ones even break the gums a little, but then it heals over. This time, the random shifting apparently involved the tooth driving itself directly into a nerve for three days. That’s the only thing I can figure.

  22. Are you sure it wasn’t just a popcorn husk wedged down into the gum between the last molar and the wisdom tooth? I’ve had that cause major pain, only to be instantly relieved once it works itself out.

    FYI, have all four of my wisdom teeth at age 46.

  23. Go for the KO! Otherwise you’ll be hearing and feeling horrible grinding (or so I’ve been told). This is another happy wisdom tooth story, in case you needed to stock up. I had all four out in one go a few years back, and I had a fantastic time! They were all impacted, two of them half out, two of them never out. I was knocked out for half an hour with a simple valium IV. It makes most people kind of groggy but it make me really chatty.

    I had no pain, no bleeding, the stiches faded away the way they were supposed to, and I could have gone completely drug-free, except that I really enjoyed the prescribed drugs so took them anyway. It really was one of the best times I had! I wished that I could have them taken out every week (OK, perhaps I was high).

    Moneywise, if you have any kind of flexible spending account (FSA) and can wait until January, you could put the money aside tax free and save a good chunk. (Or use a health spending account? I don’t know how those work.)

    As for Colleen, I think that having no wisdom teeth makes you the next step in human evolution!

    Oh, and long-time reader, first-time poster. I absolutely love your blog, thank you for being such a positive force in people’s lives.

  24. J, yeah, I’m sure. For one thing, I’ve flossed a couple times since it started. Weirdly, brushing my teeth and flossing actually felt sort of therapeutic — though achy — instead of horrid. Secondly, this wasn’t just major pain. This was MAJOR PAIN. (For real, I wouldn’t have even considered calling a dentist if I wasn’t in utter agony. I am way too scared of having them out.) I considered the possibility that I’d cracked a tooth or lost a filling next to the wisdom tooth (there are three in a row that were all hurting), but there was no sensitivity to hot and cold; just massive, massive pressure. Day one felt like I just had my braces tightened. Day two felt like I’d just gotten braces on. Day three felt like I had a steel spike rammed into my gum.

    And Day 4… poof. Tenderness, but no more real pain.

    Which, as a cycle, is reminiscent of previous wisdom tooth action, as I’ve said. So I’m pretty sure about the self-diagnosis. We’ll see what the oral surgeon has to say.

    And seriously, you still have all 4? Damn.

    Artemis, thanks!

  25. It really was one of the best times I had! I wished that I could have them taken out every week (OK, perhaps I was high).

    Artemis, this is hilarious but I think I know where you’re coming from. Last year I had the best annual gyn exam of my life — friendly and amazingly skilled practitioner, absolutely zero discomfort — and I was so happy about it that I wanted to call everyone I knew.

  26. I’m with Artemis–I also have a good wisdom teeth story. When I went in for my consultation, I also had no dental insurance. They examined me and said “oh, we’ve been waiting for someone who meets our criteria–no impacted teeth, early 20s, good health–to be our demo patient.” So, they pulled all four of my wisdom teeth for half price, the only caveat being that they trooped in all the members of some dental board to watch. : ) They put me under for the first time ever and it was fine. I basically closed my eyes and when I opened them again, all four teeth were out. Recovery was fine too–no swelling to speak of, minimal pain. Really the worst part was waiting for the numbness to go away.

    Also, WRT finances, the office let me do a payment plan. I paid them $100 for 5 months, which was, as I said, half off the regular no-insurance price. Explore thy options!

  27. Kate,

    I just wanted to add one more comment because 31 is an odd number. Now that you’re at 32, this comment list feels complete.

    Get those fuckers out, anyway.


  28. Kate, the MAJOR PAIN thing sounds like your tooth was dying. That usually happens when you have a cavity of some sort and the hole goes done to the root. The root slowly disintegrates and that causes about three days of major pain. After the root is dead the tooth isn’t heat or cold sensitive, but the root has to be removed nonetheless (not as painful as the dying process). I’ve had to have this done four times, because my parents “blessed” me with crappy teeth. :-/
    But this diagnosis is just a guess – maybe it isn’t that dramatic.

    Regarding the wisdom tooth extraction: I had two wisdom teeth that were semi-erupted (lower jaw), but it took about two minutes to remove each one (but I didn’t have them extracted in one session) and there was no pain at all.
    The removal of my wisdom teeth in the upper jaw was a total different story: My one wisdom tooth hadn’t broken through my gums, so it had to be surgically removed. I don’t know why, but that was really painful and complicated, so until today I refuse to have the last remaining wisdom tooth removed. The problem is that it’s semi-erupted and crooked. Well, I’ll have to see what my dentist says. *shudder*

    Whatever has to be done, I wish you good luck and a fast recovery!

  29. I’m going so far in my support of you, that even though I was lucky enough to be born without wisdom teeth, I’m having a tooth extracted (and a bone graft to prepare for an implant) on October 17.

    I ran face first into a steel door jamb when I was in college and shattered a molar. I’ve since had two root canals in it (apparently I have twisted roots, which I think would be a great name for a band.) ANYWAY, to make a long story longer, it’s been abcessed for ages, and the root is cracked vertically, resulting in bone loss. In order to protect the surrounding teeth, that sucker has to go.

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