The tooth is gone now. Rather than simply pulling it, as I had expected, the dentist ended up essentially pulverizing it last Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, it wasn’t as easy a tooth to remove as had been hoped or expected.
As a bit of a preface, this ended up being my family’s week for unpleasant dental procedures. My wife had learned a couple months ago that she needed to have her wisdom teeth removed and, coincidentally, that was scheduled for last Saturday, just 4 days before the extraction of my baby tooth. Since she only had two wisdom teeth that needed to come in (the lower ones never came in), she decided to have the procedure done with just local anesthetic instead of being put to sleep for it. When she got there, the oral surgeon immediately asked her if she wanted to re-consider that, which obviously wasn’t a good sign. She decided to go through with it, though, and when she came out she immediately told me it was one of the most miserably painful experiences she remembered.
Since my baby tooth extraction was scheduled to be done only using a local, her experience obviously made me very nervous. I even called the dentist’s office on Monday and asked them to advise on what I should do. They still recommended sticking with the local and essentially said that this should be a much easier experience. When I had my own wisdom teeth out around 12 years ago, one of them was removed using only a local (it was something of an emergency as it had become infected) and the other two were removed while I used a combination of laughing gas and valium. I didn’t remember either procedure being overwhelmingly bad, so I decided to stick with the original plan this time as well.
The first thing that the dentist told me on Wednesday was that he was going to use a lot of the local anesthetic and that I shouldn’t really feel anything at all during the extraction. To his credit, this turned out to be pretty much accurate, even when the extraction did turn out to be a bit more difficult than expected. The amount of anesthetic used was by far the most I ever remember receiving for a dental procedure, with the dentist even having to stop to refill the dispenser at one point. He applied it at several different locations in my mouth and I was overall pretty thoroughly numb. My dentist has an excellent bedside manner and pretty regularly double checked during the procedure to make sure that I was ok and not feeling any pain.
Initially, the dentist tried to just pretty directly pull the tooth out. He loosened it a bit using a sharp tool and then used the “wiggle and pull” technique (as my wife called it last weekend) to try and get the tooth out. While the anesthetic kept it from really hurting, this was a bit unpleasant as it involved quite a it of pressure and I could even feel and hear some popping as it was pulling loose. The tooth just wouldn’t let go, though, and he couldn’t get it to come out that way. At that point, he switched over to the dental drill, which he used to essentially break the tooth apart. At one point, a chunk of the tooth even flew out and hit the assisting hygienist in the face. Fortunately, she was wearing a face mask so it didn’t cause any damage.
He explained to me that the tooth was angled towards the bone, which had caused the root to be somewhat fused into place. That was why it required quite a bit of extra effort to get it out. After it was all out, the dentist had an X-ray taken to ensure that there weren’t any fragments left in. This may actually have been the most difficult part of the procedure as I found it very difficult to bite down on the mouthpiece when I was both numb and generally irritated from the procedure. They had to try a couple times before I was able to suppress the gag instinct enough to get the picture taken. Fortunately, it did show that the tooth was fully removed at that point.
I didn’t try to go back to work after the extraction on Wednesday and, instead, ended up sleeping through a lot of the afternoon. The numbness didn’t really start to wear off until late in the day, so I didn’t have much discomfort then. The biggest problem was that I was supposed to bite down on gauze until bleeding fully stopped, but I did quit a bit before that as it was really causing me to gag. Fortunately, the clot still seemed to form ok despite that. I have had a fair amount of soreness in both my jaw and in the gums around where the tooth was, although I’ve been able to control it with Advil and haven’t had to fill the pain medication prescription the dentist gave me. I’m writing this on Saturday (3 days after the extraction) and I’m still a bit sore today.
One of the tougher problems this week has been trying to come up with things to eat that are sufficiently soft and easy to eat. Wednesday evening, my wife went over to the grocery store and picked up some deli roast beef and chicken, which I was able to eat pretty easily, but not in a sandwich. For that first night, the instructions I was given said not to eat anything hot, so that is why cold cuts were an obvious choice. At lunch on Thursday, I tried getting a burger and fries from McDonalds and those did end up being a bit tough to eat. Looking for something softer, we ended up fixing scrambled eggs and toaster waffles for dinner that night. Yesterday, I decided to go over and try a new Yoshinoya (a fast food chain featuring Japanese food) that had opened near my office and the beef bowl with rice turned out to be pretty easy to eat. Last night, I ended up getting French Toast at Denny’s for dinner and I had soup for lunch this afternoon. I think I’m getting to the point where I hopefully can start eating somewhat more solid food, though, which is good since we have reservations for a Mother’s Day brunch buffet tomorrow.
At the end of the appointment on Wednesday, they gave me the formal referral to the oral surgeon for getting the implant. The dentist said that I need to wait 4-6 weeks for the extraction to fully heal before the implant can be done. I actually have a vacation scheduled in about 6 weeks, so I don’t know if I will end up having to delay the procedure until after that. I likely will call next week and at least set up the initial consultation on it. I do hope that the big gap in my teeth doesn’t drive me completely nuts between now and the time that I get the implant in place. At least it is far enough back that it isn’t visible.