I had a tooth pulled yesterday, Friday, December 27, 2019. My appointment was for 1:30 p.m. I made the appointment on Monday morning. I had most of a week to obsess and worry about it. I excel at obsessing and worrying.
As children, we sort of get used to losing teeth. For a while anyway until the permanent ones come in. As adults … well I thought of my teeth as fixtures. Something I’d have for the rest of my life. Oh well.
It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I have a dentist phobia stemming from something that happened to me when I was four years old. Yes, I know, most four year olds don’t need fillings. My parents were not too bright about the dental hygiene thing. They thought it was normal to get a filling every time they went to the dentist. Keep in mind, I was born in 1952 and people didn’t know then what we know now. And there were no rechargeable toothbrushes. I love my rechargeable toothbrush.
I’d had a tooth pulled once before this most recent one. It didn’t go well. It didn’t come out easily and it was one in my upper jaw. So I was not looking forward to the one in my lower jaw having to come out.
Several of my teeth had been damaged in a fall from a horse many years ago. The previous one I lost was a result of that and three other teeth needed extensive work to save them. The one that came out yesterday was one of those three. My dentist at that time told me that they still might “blow up” sometime in the future. Those were his words.
That dentist sold his practice and move away. So I’ve been in the market for a new dentist. It’s hard to find an office where they don’t have two dozen plug-in “air fresheners” working at all times. Fragrances give me migraine headaches. I try to avoid migraine headaches. They’re not much fun with the pain, light and sound sensitivity and the vomiting.
Oddly enough, a dentist had recently moved to a new office near the entrance to the housing community in which I live (it had previously been a real estate office). I visited that office for the first time on Monday (about seven minutes from door to door) and discovered it was hardly at all smelly. When I talked with Dr. Vallejo about it, he said he doesn’t like a lot of fragrance. Mostly, the smells come from the other patients.
He examined my tooth and confirmed my “diagnosis” that it had to come out. Oh joy. We made the appointment and I spent the intervening days in a funk pretty much sure this was the end of my life as I had known it.
I was a mess when the day and time arrived. They put me in a room and took my blood pressure and pulse. I normally run about 105/50 with a pulse of about 68. My BP was 142/58 and my pulse was 91. Not good.
I also have an injection phobia. You can stick a needle in me without a problem to draw blood, but putting something into me totally freaks me out. But Dr. Vallejo did it all with a great deal of care. I got an anesthetic gel to numb the initial injection site. He then injected just a small amount and very slowly so that it would hurt as little as possible. After that took effect, he made two larger injections and we waited again. When those were in effect, he injected the gum directly around the tooth.
When I was good and numb, he asked me if I wanted to know what he was about to do or if he should just do it. I couldn’t decide and so he opted for telling me. He said he would loosen the tooth and then when it was loose he’d use forceps to pull it out.
I was ready for an ordeal like with my previous extraction. He got started and then said, “It’s out.” I sat up and looked at him and said, “It’s out?” He picked up the forceps with my tooth clamped in them and said, “Yup. There it is. Do you want to keep it?” I thought about it for a moment and said, “Sure. Why not? I’ll put it under my pillow.” He smiled.
It was such a non-event that I couldn’t believe it. I’d made it into such a problem in my mind. I think we always think things will be worse than they actually are. Maybe it’s a protection mechanism. Maybe not considering how on edge and depressed I’d been for days.
To be sure, I wasn’t totally unaffected by the experience. I had a hard time with the let-down from all the adrenaline and my teeth, which I was supposed to keep closed to hold the gauze pad in place, would not stop chattering for about 20 minutes.
Today, I have almost no pain. And I’m not taking any pain medication. Not even an over-the-counter one. The clot looks like it will stay in place nicely. And I figure it will heal without a problem.
Now I just have to survive the antibiotic that I have been taking since Monday.