Warning: If you don’t like needles, you may not want to read this post.
I’d had a tooth pulled a little over three years ago. The tooth wasn’t totally numb when the dentist started yanking on it, and it hurt. The dentist had to stop the procedure and numb the area further before continuing.
The way I remember it, there was a lot of tugging on the tooth, and I was fighting my body to keep it in the chair. My brain was telling me that what was happening in my mouth was UNNATURAL, and I should put a stop to it. Even once my mouth was adequately numb, my brain wouldn’t shut up about the unnaturalness of what the dentist was doing.
For the current extraction, I wanted my brain to be calm, so I took an Ativan. Actually, I took half an Ativan before I went to sleep the night before the procedure and the second half right before I went into dental exam room #2.
I’ll tell you what…I slept like a log the night before the extraction. The Ativan sent me off into the land of deepest sleep. I had to get up in the night for my usual trip to the toilet, but I barely felt awake. When I woke up the morning, I was in no hurry to get out of bed.
After breakfast, while I was brushing my teeth, the crown popped off my tooth for the last time. I put it back on my tooth, but didn’t use any adhesive. I figured I’d pop it off right before the extraction.
The Lady of the House drove me to the appointment because we all knew I shouldn’t be driving on Ativan. I didn’t feel much different than normal, just maybe a little slower and a little sleepier.
We arrived at Dr. Jay’s office about twenty minutes before my appointment. The doctor herself gave me a stack of paperwork to complete and accepted my payment. After filling in all of the blanks, I ducked into the restroom to pop off my crown and pop the remaining half of Ativan down my throat.
I sat down in the chair in exam room #2. I hadn’t been there long before the nurse led me into the hall for an x-ray. After the x-ray, she put a cotton swab with numbing gel against my gum. After a while, a male dentist (my dentist’s husband, I found out later, so his name is also Dr. Jay) came in to give me the numbing shots. Mr. Dr. Jay told me to open my mouth and close my eyes, and I did. He started giving me shots, and it hurt, but I kept my displays of discomfort to low moans.
They left me alone in the exam room for a while. A couple time I was asked if I was feeling numb. I said I was, but I was afraid I wasn’t numb enough. I wanted to be sure I’d feel no pain when the procedure started.
Mrs. Dr. Jay came into the room and said the procedure might be a little difficult because of my curved roots. She said an oral surgeon would have charged me $500 to remove that tooth. (Dr. Jay charged me $150.) She said not to worry though, because she is really good at extracting teeth. She told me that people have told her that she should write a book about extracting teeth.
Before she started to pull the tooth, Dr. Jay wanted to confirm that it was entirely numb. She started poking around in my mouth. I felt some pressure, but then I felt what would have quickly turned into pain had she poked harder. I raised my left hand. She stopped what she was doing and said she would give me more numbing medication.
My eyes were closed, and even if they had been open, I wouldn’t have been able to see where the dentist put the needle. From the way it felt, I imagined that Dr. Jay had jabbed the needle deep into my jaw. It hurt! It hurt! It Hurt! IT HURT! IT MOTHER FUCKING HURT! I screamed a wordless scream! Dr. Jay said (in her East Indian accent), Please do not scream. I quit screaming, but it hurt so bad.
After I’d quit yelling, Dr. Jay told me, We dentists have a saying. If you scream, we must charge you twice. Once for you and once for the patient that leaves.
I went from yelling to laughing. And I apologized for screaming.
While we were waiting to make sure that the medication had kicked in, Dr. Jay explained to me that the roots of the tooth were very infected. (Dr. Endo had told me the same thing, so I knew it was true.) She said that the infection is acidic, but the medication is a base. So the first round of the medication that hits the infection is neutralized. Although putting the medication right into the infection REALLY hurt, Dr. Jay made sure I wasn’t going to feel anything during the procedure. Thank you, Dr. Jay.
Dr. Jay had me open my mouth again. I made my own decision to close my eyes.
She told me I’d feel a lot of pressure because of the curved roots. I felt her working in my mouth, and I did feel a lot of pressure, but no pain. In just a few moments, she was no longer working in my mouth, and I said, Is that it? Are you done?
She was almost done. She’d pulled the tooth. The tooth was out. She still had to get some of the roots out of my jaw. She took care of them pretty quick. You are good, I told her, but she already knew it.
The nurse put a gauze pad over my tooth hole, and told me to bite down. Dr. Jay showed me the tooth, complete with curved roots, one of which was swollen with infection. Gross!
I was handed prescriptions for antibiotics (got to get rid of that infection) and painkillers (Tylenol with codeine, which I did not get filled) and instructions for aftercare.
I took a nap that afternoon, and ate mostly pudding and ice cream until the evening when The Lady made biscuits and I ate the very soft middles with honey. I took my medicine and let my body heal.