Yesterday I had the unpleasant experience of having to go to the dentist for a bit of oral surgery, namely, wisdom tooth removal. Upon going there I wondered how the pain would feel. Would it be sharp and intense? Would it be blunt and burning? Needless to say, I was more than a little bit worried getting into the dentist’s chair, because dentist’s and their entire practice unsettle me quite a bit. I tend to find people that take pleasure operating within people’s mouths unsettling.
After getting settled into the chair, consisting of cheap, scarred vinyl, I made idle small talk with the dentist concerning my job and general life. I knew he could care less, but it kept me from thinking about what he was about to do. He was going to rip my tooth out of my mouth for crying out loud! As soon as he showed me the X-rays, I knew things weren’t going to be easy. The tooth was HORIZONTAL. Yes, sideways, laying down, within the gum, butting up against the molar. Now, I’m not dentist, but sure as hell know that’s not anywhere close to normal. “It might be a difficult extraction”, he told me, as he snapped on his powder free latex gloves. I reclined there in the chair, staring at the light suspended above me, listening to the clink of metal as they prepared their tools. I admit I was queasy. Sharp medical instruments do that to me.
I had assumed that I would be rendered unconscious via some laughing gas (NO2), however, the dentist said he would just use a local anesthetic. He lowered the hypodermic syringe towards my mouth, which was so large that I thought it would be better suited to tranquilizing an elephant, rather than inject some fluid into my delicate gums. This is about when I closed my eyes. The needle left a sharp stinging sensation when it penetrated, and it felt as if he were injecting liquid fire into my gums. Fortunately, this sensation was over quickly, as each injection only took a few seconds. However, he had to do four of them. As I started to lose all feeling in the right side of my mouth and face, I couldn’t talk very much, and I think my brain was confused as to just what in the hell was going on.
The rest of the operation is somewhat sketchy, due to me closing my eyes for most of the time, only opening to see what he was doing once in a while. I watched as he brought scissors into my mouth and cut away the gum. I felt the small dentist’s saw, or drill, that he used to cut my tooth into small chunks. I smelt the acrid scent of burning enamel and bone. I felt small fragments of bone, saliva, and blood pelt my face as he used his instruments to cut through my tooth. Every time he tugged on the base of the tooth, trying to free it from its embedment in my gum, I felt as if he were tugging at my jaw bone. It felt like the roots of the tooth were on fire. I may have been numbed, but I still FELT pain dammit.
As he gave a few final Herculean tugs on what remained of my tooth, it finally was wrenched free. It looked hideous. Of course, it had been through hell. As they started to clean up the tools, the assistant toweled all of the blood and other matter off of my face. As he stuffed my mouth with gauze, the dentist told me that it was a difficult extraction, but it was a success. I rose shakily, stumbled out of the room, somehow managed to sign multiple documents, and grab a prescription of vicodin. I still don’t know just exactly how I managed to drive home.