The Dentist… not an experience I wish to repeat

As regular readers will know last Friday I had the dentist for a tooth extraction. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience and for that reason I am stating now

if you are fearful of the dentist or have a dental phobia please skip this week’s blog post.

I would hate for anyone to read this and then never go to the dentist again. So I am warning you it wasn’t pretty but there were some humorous bits as well.

I had been pretty wound up about this trip to the dentist from the Tuesday of the week before. Granted I asked for the extraction as I couldn’t stand the thought of having to listen to the drill going and the fear that at any moment the local anaesthetic will have worn off and I will be able to feel everything. The night before the appointment I decided that I would take 5mg of diazepam to ensure I slept. Fear of any kind of medical appointments can leave me struggling to sleep for up to a week prior. Thankfully I had been able to sleep over the previous 9 nights, as we were sorting stuff out due to the car. I slept well but woke up with my usual Diazepam hangover I get when I take the full dose. Of late I have been cutting them in half as they work just as well when I am struggling to sleep.

My appointment was for 9.35am, as we now get up ridiculously early due to Dembe ( although saying that he slept until 6.10am this morning had his breakfast and then slept until 8am – unheard of and what a luxury!) it felt like it was hours away. At 8.45am I took 5mg of Diazepam, now I never take Diazepam during the day, maybe in the evening when my back is in spasm and I would never take the full dose of 5mg. I also took some oramorph so it was in my system and would hopefully help with the pain. By the time we were travelling to the Dentist surgery at 9.20am I was off my face! 

I actually felt like I had drunk several gin and tonics on an empty stomach. My face was numb and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. Jay dropped me off, I prefer doing the dentist alone as then I don’t have to pretend to be brave to an audience. He was going to take Dembe to the beach. I checked myself in and made my way to the waiting room. Eternally grateful it was on the ground floor as by now there was no way I was ever going to manage to do steps by this point. Putting one foot in front of the other without falling over was enough of a challenge. Thankfully the waiting room was empty and I wasn’t going to have to pretend I wasn’t off my face. It was like one of those situations where you are having pretend you are sober and the harder you try the drunker you look.

It was just as well the Diazepam had rendered me incapable of doing much at all because I was late going in for my appointment. around 30 minutes. At any other time where I hadn’t taken Diazepam I would have just run away claiming a prior engagement for not being able to hang around. By the time I got into the consulting room I was floating, I knew I was at the Dentist but I didn’t really give a shit, which is the complete opposite of how I normally am.

As I walked in the Dentist asked me how I was, I laughed and said ” I’m floating” he looked a little confused so I reminded him that he gad previously advised me to take Diazepam for any interventions he was going to carry out. He started laughing, normally I am so uptight I can barely speak. I wasn’t looking forward to the procedure but the overwhelming sense of fear and need to get the hell out of there had gone.

I reminded him – god knows how that I really didn’t need any detail during the procedure, just a high level overview at all times. It is the detail that makes my fear spiral out of control. 

Now my memory of events is a little hazy, I am having to look back at stuff I wrote on social media whilst still under the influence to remember exactly what happened. I know it was horrific and I am still in pain. My gum where the tooth was removed is black and blue and I have only been able to eat solid food from last night 4 days after the extraction. I do remember being rather amusing although it may have been only me that was amused.

Initially my Dentist had a look at my tooth again. I know that he said that it had disintegrated further from just over a week ago. I do have a terrible habit of unconsciously clenching my teeth when stressed and obviously over the last week with having to find a new car and this appointment looming I had probably been clenching more than normal. The tooth to give you a basic idea is on the right upper jaw at the back 7 I believe is its number. It was filled a very long time ago, due to EDS my teeth have narrow fissures which mean they are much more prone to needing filled. Had anyone realised I had EDS as a child they would have sealed all my adult teeth as they came through to prevent caries ( decayed areas). Instead now I am left with teeth that are rapidly losing their enamel and are more filling than tooth. Anyway I digress, the tooth being removed just to complicate things had also fractured. So I one side of the tooth stood the filling and on the other sat the really crappy tooth.

The dentist then gave me two injections one either side of the tooth. The one on the outside of the gum wasn’t too bad but the one on the inside of my gum near the roof of my mouth really stung. Whilst he was waiting for the local anaesthetic to take effect he then did a quick clean of my teeth. I had to stop him once as it was sore, on my bottom jaw at the front but I can see how much better they are looking for it. Of course on the side where he had done the injection he could do whatever he wanted as I could no longer feel anything. As he knew he would have a limited time in which to work as I tend to burn through local really quickly, as soon as I was numb he set to work.

This was really weird, the dentist moved the chair really high up, so I was face to face with him and I was sat bolt up right. I closed my eyes at this point as I find it really uncomfortable staring into someones face whilst they try to rip your tooth from the gum. I have no idea what kind of implement he was using, I am guessing some kind of pliers, as I could feel the end of them against my lower lip. As he was pulling away the pressure was immense. I felt like my cheekbone was going to shatter and my TM ( temporomandibular joint – the hinge joint of your jaw either side of your face in front of your ears) was going to dislocate. I put up with it for so long and then I grabbed his arm and explained that the TM joint was moving beyond a normal range of motion and felt like it was being pushed to the point of dislocation. Let alone the feeling of pressure in my cheek bone. He wasn’t impressed and said “you are going to feel some pressure” I responded that I understood that but I was very aware of the fact that it wasn’t going to take much more for the joint to pop. Reluctantly I agreed that he could continue. He started up again and it was really quite clear that this approach wasn’t going to work. My tooth was claiming squatters rights and a different approach was needed.

As my tooth was quite fragile due to the fracture in it he decided to put a band around it to try and maintain its integrity and to stop it fracturing into tiny pieces. It didn’t work as although all I could feel was pressure there was the sound of a tooth exploding and a wedge of tooth dropped into the back of my throat. I tapped his arm for him to allow me to sit up and then I spat out what had dropped into the back of my throat. It was a chunk of the filling and a piece of tooth. What shocked me though was the sheer amount of blood, the dental nurse had done a good job using the suction device as I hadn’t tasted or felt any blood at all. I had however missed the sink bit when spitting and the dentists pristine white unit and floor now resembled a bare knuckle boxing ring. I apologised profusely for making such a mess. I then grabbed another piece of tooth out of my mouth and loudly declared “the tooth fairy isn’t going to accept this shit is she?” to which both the dentist and the dental nurse laughed. Probably more at the fact the longer I was in the chair the more drunk I was sounding.

As the tooth had disintegrated in my mouth the dentist decided he was divide up the rest of the tooth and remove it piece by piece. This meant the use of the dreaded drill. I started shaking a lot and I had zero control over it. The dentist asked me if I was ok but as he had his hand in my moth at the time I could only make a weird sort of noise that was accepted as a yes. The smell was disgusting, a weird burning smell. I spent the whole time gripping the armrests praying that the local anaesthetic was going to hold. I knew that this deep into the tooth there was a high chance if it was to wear off it would be like a scene from Marathon Man.

More moves with the pliers and more blood. I was starting to swallow it now, which was making me feel sick and slowly the tooth  came out in pieces but it was only the tooth that was visible above the gum line. The roots themselves were refusing to budge. The shakes were getting worse, at about this point I was lying there thinking I wish I had just had the bloody crown done. I had innocently assumed that the tooth would pop out without issue and now 20 minutes in we were looking at playing a game of dig out the roots. My heart rate well that must have been close to the 200’s. I was shaking like I was plugged into the electric mains. My heart sank when he informed me he was going to have to dissect the root in my gum using the drill. Again the fear was that the local anaesthetic would have worn off and I was going to be in pain.

I have to say at this point my dentist was really good. Every time he went to use the drill before touching me he would blow cold air onto the area he was going to work on to check it was still numb before he started. It wasn’t until it was all over and I was sat up talking to him that I clocked that he had a syringe primed with extra local anaesthetic in case it had been needed. I finally felt that after all this time he was listening to me.

I tried really hard to get the shakes under control but there was nothing I could do. The taste of blood the smell of the roots of the tooth being  broken up into pieces. I heard him ask the nurse for the root forceps or something similar. I had to ask to sit up again as whilst the nurse had been getting the tool for him a whole load of blood and bits of root / tooth was sat on the back of my throat choking me. Again I was a little taken back at the amount of blood. I know it was mixed with saliva but the blood was really bright red and thick, so was probably 90% blood and 10% saliva. I really didn’t fancy my prospects of being able to get off the dentists chair without fainting.

By the time it was over I had been in the dentists chair for over 35 minutes. I still couldn’t stop shaking. The dentist showed me the root’s of the tooth he had removed it was over an inch long no wonder the fucking thing hadn’t wanted to come out. It had also been twisted around the other side the root. Still under the influence of Diazepam I said “that’s a fucking monster” I do try to limit my profanity when in polite company but it felt right in the moment. It also noticed there was blood all over the instrument tray and all over his gloves. It is a good job that I don’t faint at the sight of blood.

I have to say this was the most violent and traumatic tooth extraction I have ever gone through. At the end of the procedure the Dentist told me that at one point he thought he was going to have to send me to hospital as he didn’t think he was going to be able to get the roots out. I am not surprised because I think I went into shock during it and that was what was causing me to shake so violently. Plus the sight of all that blood, repeatedly.

At the time of talking to the dentist I was clamping down on the gauze they give you to apply pressure to the wound. After five minutes he checked that it had stopped bleeding which it had but he gave me a spare gauze to take home. Just as well because 10 minutes after being home my mouth was full of blood and I then had to sit for 40 minutes with the gauze clamped against the extraction site to stop the bleeding. When I finally removed it, it was soaked all the way through.

The pain really started to kick in a few hours after I had got back home and my face started to swell. It took every pain medication in the house taken at regular intervals to get the pain under control. My TMJ also flared up with pain so moving my jaw was incredibly painful. For the next few days I was washing my mouth out with salt water every 2 hours. I felt so sick for hours afterwards due to the amount of blood I had swallowed during the course of the surgery. Its not an experience I want to repeat and I think I maybe referred to hospital for the wisdom tooth to be extracted after that debacle.

Its now Wednesday and I am still in pain at the extraction site. The pain hasn’t got any worse and it is localised just at the site rather than what it was like on Friday where the whole right side of my face hurt. I think due to the EDS it is going to take longer to heal. If it hasn’t settled down by next Monday I will give the Dentist’s surgery a ring as it would have been well over a week since the tooth was removed. I have had a quick look inside my mouth and there is quite a bit of bruising so I imagine that is contributing to the pain.

The good news is that on the same day of the tooth extraction Jay picked up our new 2nd hand car. I didn’t get to go out in it until Saturday but it is lovely and very comfortable. Dembe has given it his seal of approval and covered it in long yellow hair!

***

About an hour after I finished writing this post my mouth really began to hurt. It was hurting all along my cheek bone, up into my eye and nothing was touching it. I waited until 11.50am to ring the dentist as I was wondering if it was psychosomatic but as the pain was increasing I knew it wasn’t. Finally the dentist surgery rang me at 14.30 after I had rung them again just before 2pm to find out why I hadn’t heard from them – the pain was increasing and I just wanted there to be an end in sight. They asked me to come straight down.

Even thought this was an emergency appointment I was seen straight away by a different dentist than my own. He confirmed that the blood clot had been lost from the extraction site and that bone and nerves were now exposed. He had to give it a good clean out with cold water and then picked out all the food debris that had got in it. He said it was showing no signs of infection but he took an x-ray and they will contact me if they find anything. 

The extraction site has now been packed with iodine gauze – which tastes grim but has reduced the pain I was in enormously. I have got to try to keep it in situ for the next few days. Then resume the hot salty water rinsing. 

I knew this morning when I woke up feeling exceptionally tired and rough that something wasn’t right but just couldn’t put my finger on it. So glad that I have been, the only time in my life I was happy to visit the dentist!

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