Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wisdom Tooth Extraction- Pain or Relief?

The last week has been a painful period for me, starting with last Sunday when I noticed swelling, redness and pain around my lower right wisdom tooth (known as tooth 32). I was able to get an emergency appointment with an out-of-network dentist who took one look at my last molar and put me on a cycle of antibiotics and pain killers with a advice to go see my own dentist at the earliest so that I could be referred to an oral surgeon (who is the one who does wisdom tooth extractions) and have the tooth removed to avoid future infections.

After a visit to the dentist who was my assigned one under my insurance plan, I met an oral surgeon on Wednesday. By this time, my teeth were x-rayed under several images at the dentists. I've heard that wisdom tooth extractions are normal procedures done in this country and especially in a person's teen years, when the tooth are unable to come out and its easier to remove. Several folks at work told me that they had all 4 of their wisdom teeth removed when they were in high school or in college. This did nothing to assuage my fears that I was no more in my teens and of course the procedure was going to be more painful.

The oral surgeon who saw me advised me to have both my lower teeth out at one shot, since there was a chance that the same swelling etc. may occur on teeth 17, the left side molar and it would be wise to have both removed at the same time. There were 2 options given to me along with a detailed explanation of what my insurance would cover versus what wasn't going to be covered.

The first option was to go in for a general anesthesia, where I would be completely under during the procedure and would feel no pain at all during the extraction. Unfortunately, the insurance would not pay for this and this is the most expensive method. The second option was to take a local anesthetic to numb the gums and jaw and feel some little pain and have the tooth extracted, the insurance would cover for this.

My tolerance to pain is usually very minimal and never having been to a dentist more than for a few clean-ups in India, I decided to go with the first option of being under general anesthesia and having the tooth out. The oral surgeon's office gave me a 4 page hand-out for before and after surgery instructions.

The date for the extraction was set for Friday morning. Several online source readings, u-tube videos etc. had made me quite nervous and valium was given to calm me down. K had taken the day off to drive me and bring me back home from the surgery, since I wouldn't be able to drive back after the anesthesia.

After the procedure, I was so groggy and could hardly walk to the car (was brought in a wheel chair) and came home with gums stuffed with gauze pads that needed changing every 30 minutes or so since the bleeding continued for 24-48 hours. K was diligent about following the post-operative instructions and kept the ice pack on and off for the next 8-12 hours. My eating was restricted to jello, apple juice and yogurt for the weekend. On Sunday, I was able to eat mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

The last couple of days have been a gradual improvement with respect to my being able to eat normal food, but, my jaw movements are restricted and it still hurts when I talk. It feels like there are hollows on either side of my jaw and now its time for the heat packs to go on. I've stayed home for the past couple of days, relaxing, watching TV, catching up on sleep and reading and also doing some cooking and baking, things I enjoy doing.

Am planning to end the extended time off, by returning to work tomorrow, have to go see the oral surgeon tomorrow for a post surgery check up, hopefully, it all went well.

To all those who've had your wisdom tooth removed, Kudos for getting one painful experience over with in life. For those ones, who haven't had to have them extracted, stay lucky.

Happy Smiles!!!


Cham said...

I went for the surgery 4 years back. Had fear of surgery , didnt' listen my husb who removed his wisd tooth also. I was just keep living with swelling and pain for more than 4 years... I would say better to remove it at the younger age... I recovered after 24 hours they removed in one shot... Wish u a better recovery and u r free after all. I am bay area Tamilian ....

Sundar Narayanan said...

have you started playing with the suture and trying to remove it with your tongue yet?


Bharathy said...

.. a nightmare for me!..The bitter encounter I had a few years ago prior to the Orthodontal treatment(those pricky metallic gadgets to push down the teeth)...had to get all 4 premolars extracted..2 in one shot and 2 the following week...a root got stuck in which needed a minor surgery!

Hope you are Better by Now! :)
Take care!..:)

Sachita(india) said...

Oops, Didn't know Friday was the D-day for you! Hopefully you are better now.

Take care.
Ps: couldn't help it, I got my 'wisdom' in my teens, your 'gyaan' is pretty late:)

A-kay said...

Well, am waiting for my root canal to be done mid-April. Can totally relate to what you are saying wrt low pain tolerance and stuff. Not sure, what my options are in terms of anesthesia. Keeping fingers crossed.

A-kay said...

Thanks for visiting mine as well. You have a nice blog here.

A-kay said...

Forgot to mention - your post gave me encouragement (and spooked me a little :-P ). Not that just that we live in the same city, I think our husband's name is the same too :)

mitr_bayarea said...


Aaaha......that is why the latter half of your blog's name sounds like K. Also, my real name begins with A ): how much spookier is this going to be?

A-kay said...

Blog-rolled you, hope you don't mind :)

UL said...

ouch...never tried it, hope i wouldnt have to ever