Trigger Warning: Dentists.
When I was younger I'd not take care of my teeth. I don't mean when I was a kid (though I am pretty sure I didn't do a very good job of looking after them then) but when I was a teenager and should have known better. I'd pretend to brush them. And then I just wouldn't. I didn't do this, and I certainly didn't like going to the dentist.
I had a bad experience with the last real dentist I liked. When my family dentist retired his practice turned over a new guy who, when polishing my teeth one afternoon, "slipped" and cut my tongue. It was sore, bloody, and quite perfectly ruinous when it came to my confidence with dentists. Like an idiot, I used it to confirm that I hated them, and didn't go back for ages. I did register in Aberdeen, but rarely went. It wasn't until Glasgow when I went back and got some work done. Not much.
It is obvious that I needed to start taking better care of my teeth though; they are dark and discoloured from all the coffee. I drink a lot of pop (fizzy juice, or just juice) and that's something I'd love to just stop. and I will, in time, but one thing was that despite not eating the right things I just didn't take care of them afterwards either. it just wasn't a thing I did, and it drives Connie crazy.
During a nice break in Glasgow I was biting hard down onto a proper Glasgow Roll and felt a little crack and a bit came off a molar. We had to cancel planned dentist appointments that week due to Etta going into the hospital over night, but we assumed it'd be fine.
It wasn't. Last week I bit down and split the molar in to two. Right down the middle. It was a massive shock, and I was scared - going to the dentist for... a dead-on extraction couldn't have been more anxiety producing if I'd tried.
I confessed right away to the dentist that I was scared of her and any procedure that she would have to undertake. She said "It'll be fine" and proceeded to tell me what I already knew really - that it would have to come right out, no questions asked. After a few moments of contemplation, I moved to ask her what she needed to do. Her response was lovely and frank: "I've going to pull the tooth out of the jaw bone by pulling away the gum. It's going to take a while".
The extraction involves getting mouth injections done, which were bloody painful. The first one was directly onto the tooth, and when I didn't flinch she noted that "the nerve endings are dead there, that's good news" and then did one to the roof of my mouth and that one did scratch. It was sore for a short while, and in my wildest nightmares getting mouth injections had been in the top five, but the were short and actually not an issue. The issue was still to come.
The pain killers worked within seconds and spread throughout my face and cheek within minutes. During this time, I had a few X-rays done, during which I had to put a weird plastic mouth guard in which made me boak a few times. We then looked at the images and she let her guard slip for the only time, admitting that it was “very deep”. I foolishly thought teeth we quite small, so I said that "it can only be a few millimetres eh?” to which said laughed and said “a tooth is almost an inch long”.
After she manages to confirm that I can’t feel anything - by this point half my face was numb - the the procedure involves scrapping away the gum around the tooth to expose the root area and then literally shear it off the jaw bone. I spent most of the time with my moth agape and just wondering what the fuck she was doing until she shattered the tooth. This is a common complication when the tooth's structure is already compromised.
The hardest part was after a while of scrapping she started twisting the tooth around using pliers and I could feel it twisting. Her arm was shaking, the suction presumably pulling blood away from my mouth. When the tooth shattered for the second time I could feel her displeasure in her arms, and the bits of my tooth felt like huge boulders on my tongue. It took a lot of deep breathing to make sure I didn't boak there and then.
Out of nowhere it started to hurt. She immediately noticed my flinching and before I realised it she had added a second local dose of pain killers to my mouth. This was what meant I'd be numb in the face and drooling until 11pm at night. One benefit of this was after the second injection she just gave up all pretence of being "nice" to me, and went to town. Twisting, gripping, shaking, shuddering. She gave my confidence boosting updates, like "you're doing amazingly well!" and "well, maybe if I can get this bit out we could leave it and you could come back next week" to which I motioned through my limited ability to communicate that I wanted it over an done with here and now, right then.
It finally popped out with an almost anticlimatic sigh from us both after I had been in the chair for 55 minutes. The tooth was lying on the side, bloodied and as long as the the main part of a Bic pen lid. Fucking hell. She said “well, you’ve got really strong bones in your mouth so that bodes well for the rest of them” so that’s good for the future.
But, that was just the start. On Friday morning I woke after sleeping on the couch (sleeping upright helps the blood clot in the socket) with blood in my mouth and a red blood tinge to my lips. What fun. The next four days rank as the most uncomfortable of my life - pain like I wouldn't have been able to believe, caused not from the socket (which I was obessed over keeping clean) but an ulcer that appeared on the Monday and has been giving me pain all week. Add to that a wicked head cold, and I've been a really nasty bastard all week.
It's been a rough one. But now I have a little gap that I can store cheerios in and I will never ever let myself have bad teeth ever again, and my kids are never not learning the lesson that I learnt last week.
Dentists are okay, who knew?