So, if you follow me on social media you may be familiar with this event because I like to bring you along for the ride whatever I’m going through, sharing is caring after all. However, I thought it would be useful to document the experience of my wisdom tooth extraction as a spoonie. Both for my own long term memory and more importantly to help you in case you have to go through it too!
The Arrival of Ear Pain
It was around about March/April after we had entered Covid19 lockdown that I began with pain. Of course, having Fibromyalgia feeling pain is a familiar sense of being. This was different though, more like muggle pain. In fact, for quite a while I thought it was coming from my ear. I had a phone appointment with the doctor and described the pain, which I could do well as I have had ear infections before. They agreed it was no doubt another ear infection and prescribed me some antibiotics.
The pain improved as I took them but began to return a week or so later so the doctor gave me a second set. Partly because the instructions on the package were wrong and I should have had them less often for a couple of extra days. I talk more about this and how Covid19 affects (or doesn’t affect) my life in this post: A Pandemic Way of Live.
No Steady Improvement
Once again, a couple of months after completing the antibiotics the pain returned which was when I began to suspect it may be in fact a tooth and not my ear. My wisdom teeth are all as different stages of eruption. The one in question was the least so, in fact, it is fair to say it was partially impacted. This time as the pain grew worse I rang the dentist instead of the doctor. They once again prescribed some antibiotics – ones that are better for teeth than ears I suppose, then booked me in to see the dentist a week later.
Visiting the Dentist
The trip to the dentist was quite a big deal as it was pretty much the first time I had been out, other than a tiny walk in the village. This was before I had bought a fabric face mask and so I wore a DIY one. In actual fact, this was far easier to wear as the valve in it stopped your glasses steaming up, still, I digress…
Full on P.P.E.!
This was certainly an interesting experience. I understand how Elliot felt when the scientists came to collect E.T. The staff had on masks, gloves and disposable aprons. Although two of us arrived at the same time we stood apart from each other outside and were brought in, one at a time, and given hand sanitiser. After a very brief wait (which was reassuringly novel) I was taken in to see the dentist who was in full on P.P.E. including a mask and visor. This made communication difficult not that there was very much to talk about.
A very fast inspection
She gave my wisdom tooth a fast glance over and took an x-ray, I half expected as I was there anyway and overdue an inspection the “whole job” would be done as I was there with my mouth open anyway. But it was incredibly fast. The x-ray results (I still remember when they would take a few days to develop and the staff would phone you about them…) showed that the partially erupted wisdom tooth was, in fact, rotten. They did say it would have been virtually impossible for me to prevent this, so there is that… I was informed they would refer me to the hospital and sent me home to wait.
A letter from a Dental Clinic
when the letter arrived I was fortunate that I had been given an upgrade. Although the treatment was still on the NHS it was being performed by a private dental clinic they subcontract work to. In case you are somewhat local and interested it was the Clarendon Dental Spa. This really was the best of both worlds.
For the benefit of my overseas readers, dental treatment under the NHS is paid for but at a reduced rate. If you are referred to a hospital for more intense procedures like wisdom tooth extractions it is free of charge. The reason I say this clinic is an upgrade does, in no way refer to the care given. The staff treat you exactly the same whether you are paying them or the state is. I am referring to things like the surroundings and the little extra touches. Things the NHS do not have the budget for.
As stated in the letter I rang the clinic to book the appointment. I could have gone within a day or two but that would be at 9 am, so instead, I chose to go the following week at 2 pm. Morning is not always good, especially if I don’t sleep well the night before. On the phone, it was explained that I would have the consultation then if it was straight forward they would extract it then and there, but if I wanted sedation, or it was more complex I would come back at a later date.
The Appointment Day
Once again I was back in the outside physical world wearing a mask and surrounded by P.P.E. I’m not going to lie I was feeling somewhat nervous, but the staff were wonderfully calming. The dental surgeon said the process was straightforward. Initially, he said I was having sedation and that my appointment would be in the new year. I knew at this point that I couldn’t face the build-up all over again. So I explained that during the phone appointment they said if it was straightforward and I didn’t need sedation it might be taken out on the day, and he instantly said – yes I can pop it out for you now…
When I have had dental treatment in the past one of the worst parts has been the injection. I wrote about fillings three years ago if you are interested in that post. This time the numbing gel did its job well and I didn’t feel the liquid going in either. The only slight discomfort was the injection in the roof of my mouth, and I mean slight discomfort, in the past this process has been excruciating.
During the actual extraction I felt quite a lot of pressure but nothing sharp. He seemed to put the pressure on several times releasing in between. I had my eyes firmly closed so I don’t know if the tooth was breaking and he was removing it in pieces or if he was just adjusting his tools. When I felt his hand pull out for what was the final time he said look at that, to the assistant. I didn’t open my eyes and look but with hindsight I wish I had seen it.
Once I opened my eyes he asked me to bite down on the gauze and they altered the chair to sit me up. I went through the motions of putting my coat on and crying to stand up but then it hit me that I felt quite dizzy. I mentioned this so they sat me back in the chair and tilted it right back, put a fan on me and a cold compress on my forehead. I put it down to the relief of it being over but the assistant mentioned that it could also be a reaction to the numbing medication.
It was at this time that I really benefited from being in the private clinic. When I have had dizzy spells after blood tests in the past I have, at best, had a less powerful fan directed at me. It was the swift implementation of all these things at once that meant I recovered far quicker that I sometimes have.
The rest of the Day
I was informed that the numbing would wear off in about 3 hours. I don’t know if it is because of the Fibromyalgia or just me, but the reality was more like about 7 hours later. I took my regular painkillers as soon as I got home to preempt the pain. As you will know if you have had dental numbing using a glass feels very strange when half your face is numb. I had to be careful not to dribble! I was numb all the way up to my eyelid.
For dinner, I was able to eat a ready meal cottage pie on the other side of my mouth. This was easier than drinking. By that point, I was ready to turn in for the night. Having done some online research I propped myself up rather than lying down and I also used an ice pack. I think I slept relatively well. There was some blood drool involved as expected but considering I had been through a wisdom tooth extraction it wasn’t a bad night!
The Recovery Process
As for recovery, well I read a lot and watched YouTube videos and they seemed to fall into two categories. The people who were well on the road to recovery within a week, and those who developed dry socket. It seems to me that Fibro did its usual thing. In the same way that it causes all the pain of arthritis without doing the damage. I seemed to develop all the symptoms of dry socket without actually having one.
Symptoms and Duration
The initial day or two after the minor operation was not too bad because I expected to still be recovering. But I found after three or four days the pain level seemed to go up. My blood clot was still in place though. Somewhere between day 7 and day 10, the nerve pain in the surrounding teeth seemed to increase. It was always worse at night so I had to continue to sleep propped up and using my ice pack. We did read that after the first days it was better to switch to heat but that was not the case.
On the Mend
It is now two weeks and two days since my wisdom tooth extraction and I would say it is only in the last day or two that I have considered myself to be on the mend. I am now taking painkillers in the morning and in the evening, so I’m able to skip the two middle daily doses. As it can take a few months for the gum to fully build back and heal over I anticipate that I may have some twinges as this process continues.
As is always the case in spoonie life something else has come along. I am now once more dealing with an ingrown toenail so all my nerve endings at the other end of my body are having their own field day, it’s always something, right? If you have found this useful I’d love you to share it on social media. If you have been through the process why not drop a comment below to let me know how you got on.
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