A couple of years ago I had enough. I had been ignoring the fact that a tooth was digging into my cheek, bleeding often and generally really hurting me most of the time. I knew I had a wisdom tooth issue as a dentist had detected it however it got left really simply to see if it just popped through and started being normal!
Suddenly one day I realised that it was making me really miserable and as I had moved I got myself a wonderful dentist. He didn't understand how I'd coped for so long and after an x-ray on the tooth decided that the only thing to do was remove it. I was in a panic. Up until this point I had never had any teeth removed!
When I went in my dentist explained what he was going to do very clearly indeed. Really though.....there is nothing to worry about and my advice is if your suffering with a wisdom tooth get it out! Its a useless tooth anyway and your not going to miss it and probably no one will ever see it anyway!
The process was simple and took less than 20 minutes. I was given an anesthetic into the area whilst lying back in the chair with the dentist sat calmly next to me. The anesthetic numbed the whole area very quickly and I did feel slightly light headed. He took a clamp like tool to the tooth which I couldn't feel of course and he sort of rocked the tooth side to side, I heard a crunch which was the worst thing about it and out it came to which he put in a dish and showed me it. I was shocked at how small the tooth was to be honest that had been giving me so much grief! I was then left to have a gargle and he placed a piece of material over the area. When I gargled there was little blood but no pain due to the anesthetic I had, and off I went.
I was warned about bleeding, pain (advised if I had pain to take paracetamol if I felt I needed it) and told to eat warm not cold or hot foods and that my cheek and gums would probably swell however I didn't suffer at all!
The dentist had given me some spare material to cover the area with and I didn't need it, paracetamol or anything else and I had no pain....whether this was because I was used to the pain that the wisdom tooth had caused when it was still in my head I'm not sure. It was fully healed within a week and really didn't bother me and I'm so glad I got that bad boy out!
I don't miss it and the hole where the tooth was is fully healed up and so to anyone afraid....don't be. I'm pleased I got rid and I've had no issues since!
Review also posted on Ciao.
First of all can I just say if you're worried about getting a wisdom tooth, you're not alone - I'd been putting off getting it done for ages! But I'm happy to advise it's not that bad!
PRICE - Depends on if you're private or not and where about you live in the UK - I live in Aberdeen and I paid £11 for the wisdom tooth extraction today. If you are on a low income you may get it free.
WHERE ARE THEY? You have four wisdom teeth and they are all at the far back of your mouth sitting behind your molars. They are often so far back that it makes them difficult to brush so don't feel too embarrassed if you have to have them out! They can also need to be extracted because they are impacted and this brings with it a few more complications but don't worry too much about that.
WHAT HAPPENS? I had my upper wisdom tooth out, first the dentist numbs you up with an injection (I didn't feel a thing but I did taste a yucky fermented beef stock liquid in my mouth!). Then here comes the shock part, I'd heard all sorts of horror stories of dentists breaking into a sweat and getting their knee onto the table trying to get the tooth out but it just isn't the case! My dentist was sat down the entire time, he rocks the tooth back and forwards and you do feel a tugging but it's not painful. The tooth was out before I knew it, then you are given a piece of gauze to bite down on for 30 minutes to stop the bleeding.
AFTERCARE - You're recommended to bite down on gauze for 30 minutes to stop the bleeding then the next day to swill your mouth out with salty water a few times.
SUMMARY - It really isn't that bad! The pain after wards isn't even that bad either, I managed it with only swallowing one set of pain killers and by the time day two had come the pain had gone completely! I honestly don't know why I was so worried about getting it done.
Wisdom teeth generally appear between the age of 17 and 25, the last teeth to appear in humans. They are large molars which are believed to once had a role in grinding down plant materials but are no longer needed. They can cause a lot of problems ranging from impaction where they do not fully erupt through the gum to overcrowding the mouth and decay.
My wisdom teeth came in around the age of 18 which I remember as being painful. There is plenty of room in the bottom of my jaw for the wisdom teeth there and they cause no problems. The upper wisdom teeth are a different matter though and I ended up having to have one removed.
The teeth took an awful long time to come in, they seemed to poke through the gum and then disappear leading to a lot of pain. When they eventually made a full appearance there were flaps of gum left over the teeth which made brushing difficult. One wisdom tooth eventually developed decay and needed to be removed.
My ex dentist was a bit of a butcher but I had to put up with her thanks to lack of choice. She was also patronising, accusing me of having phantom pain on one occasion. Having said that, the care she provided was of a high standard even if her chairside manner left a lot to be desired.
When it came to removing the tooth, I first had several injections of local anaesthetic to numb the site which was not totally effective and I ended up feeling a lot of pain during the procedure.
When dentists remove teeth, they first push down on the tooth to break the roots and the butcher despite being a tiny woman managed that fine and I felt a cracking noise in my jaw and felt some pain too.
Next step is the actual extraction which involves the dentist using their implements to prise the tooth out of the mouth. This part seemed to go on forever with the dentist attempting to rotate and pull the tooth out. The tooth broke into two parts here and I was shocked when the first part came out and I stuck my tongue into the hole and felt a space then the remaining tooth at the back and I was convinced she had taken the wrong tooth out!
Then she went in for the final part of the tooth which came out eventually. When she showed me the tooth it was huge with curved roots, the roots apparently the cause of the difficulty.
Afterwards I was handed a sheet of instructions for aftercare including what was safe to eat and drink and how to keep the socket clean.
I was really shaken and felt unwell when I left the dentist. Although there is not too much pain, I think you need to realise that this is a traumatic thing for your body to go through and make sure you can take it easy for the rest of the day. The socket continued to bleed for a couple of hours afterwards before clotting over although I ended up needing antibiotics for an infection. I used a special mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide which is especially for use after dental extractions which did help things a bit. I used over the counter ibuprofen and paracetamol to manage the pain for a few days.
In the long term, it has been a good thing as the overcrowded teeth in my mouth have moved slightly to take up the space once occupied by my wisdom tooth giving them more space.
My experience of having my wisdom tooth out was really traumatic for me. I dread having to have another one out in the future because of the curly roots and the pain this caused and even though I now have a nice dentist think I would insist on having the procedure done at a hospital instead of a dentist surgery.
If you are faced with needing a wisdom tooth out, the main advice I can give you is to look after yourself well after the procedure, perhaps having someone with you in case you end up feeling unwell as I did.
Wisdom teeth are often troublesome. They come along later in life and often don't stick around for too long. They are your 3rd molars, and apparently it's quite common for your dentist to tell you that one or more of them need to be removed. It's not the same as one of your other teeth being removed. This is something that shouldn't affect the general setup of your teeth in your mouth, I guess a bit like how your appendix is not really good for anything either.
When my dentist told me I'd have to have one of my wisdom teeth removed, I was initially scared. I mean, the idea of losing an entire tooth wasn't something I'd ever hoped to have to do, and the fact that this was now essential made me worry that the others would soon follow. I guess here it depends on your dentist, and one thing I'll say about mine is that he has a calming way of telling you anything. Once he'd explained how it was going to be done, I set up the appointment and sorted out some time off work. This is not essential, but it really depends on what you do as there is quite a lot of anaesthetic used, probably twice as much as a normal filling, even more depending on what you usually have.
When the day came, it was straightforward to start with. I'd been shown the tools and he'd said what he was going to use and why, and how it can be quite a lengthy process as teeth are so well stuck in. When he started with the injections for the anaesthetic, he numbed the entire side of my mouth before then testing to make sure I couldn't feel anything.
What then followed was a lengthy process that was compounded by a stubborn tooth that just didn't want to come out. He strained and struggled to remove it, and before long the pressure and force he was using snapped the tooth where it was being gripped. Of course, I felt nothing, but this made it a lot harder for him and he had lost the purchase he'd been using to try and lever the tooth out. However, undeterred he carried on and eventually the entire thing came out. He looked like he'd had a really good workout, and my mouth was feeling a bit sore as he'd done quite a bit of work in it. Of course, there was still no pain but I could tell it would be sore.
The rest was relatively simple, and the patching up done very quickly. After the tooth has been removed, it's important to keep your mouth as a sterile environment. A blood clot has to form and stay in place to seal the wound and inform your mouth that it's haling properly, otherwise you can have complications such as infection and more bleeding. For this, I needed to gently swill my mouth with salt water regularly for a few days, and couldn't eat anything solid for quite a while.
The biggest thing was that once the anaesthetic wore off I found it was extremely tender. I managed to have room temperature liquids and things such as yoghurt, but the closest thing I could eat to a proper meal was a good couple of days later. You can of course eat solids sooner but it really depends on the individual and I was keen to take it slowly. I remember the first packet of crisps I ate after the extraction and thought that I'd never be able to comfortably eat crisps again, but a few years on and I honestly can't say I can even tell I've had a tooth removed. You just forget about it, and it only arises when others talk about it or you see something written about it.
Generally, as long as you're patient afterwards and make sure to keep things clean and sterile while it's healing then you'll have no infections or other issues. If you need it done, it's best done sooner rather than later, or you'll experience worse problems later on. As with everything to do with your teeth, the secret is to visit your dentist regularly and brush your teeth properly too. If you're due to have wisdom teeth extracted soon, my best advice is to talk to your dentist about any concerns you may have, as there's nothing worse than not really knowing what's going on. If this is you, then best of luck.
Having a wisdom tooth is one of those moments some of us face with either fear or excitement and I have now had two out and want to share what happened during my procedures and my after care to show what can help or potentially harm your recovery.
== My Tooth ==
My teeth are odd in many ways. I had all four wisdom teeth show up in my late teens and at first they were there with no problems. They were huge and the bottom wisdom teeth were the biggest by far.
A few years ago I had an issue where I was grinding my teeth and one of the wisdom teeth ended up moving because of it and caused a slight hole which had a filling inserted into it. However the dentist actually created more problems because a few days later I had unbearable pain from underneath the tooth and this was in fact an infection.
I was given antibiotics and told the tooth needed removing. I was nervous because teeth in the past I have had removed were for a brace to be fitted for a year and there were harmless but this tooth was huge even on the X rays.
The hole was not that big either and so small and only visible via a mirror angled with a light so how an infection managed to get into such a small area frightened me. This occurrence happened with my second wisdom tooth I had removed last week and it was that emotional issue of déjà vu.
== The Tooth Removal ==
The tooth on the x rays on both occasions showed rather large wisdom teeth but both were straight and not angled as some are. Some people are told to visit there local hospital to see a specialist who can provide them with more confidence and if necessary put them under a local anaesthetic.
I had mine removed at the dentist and to begin with he cleaned the area with a polish and all the other teeth because he was still nervous about any sort of dirt or bacteria entering the tooth after it was removed.
I was given two injections on at the front of the mouth and one directly underneath the tooth which really hurt because I could feel it against my jaw bone and this was done so the nerves going underneath and around the teeth were so numb you could not sense anything was happening.
I sat back and had to wait around 20 minutes before he returned and he checked on the teeth by pushing a lot of pressure downwards to make sure the tooth was not hurting me or that I could feel that pressure. He also cut the gum slightly to see if I felt that also, which I didn't.
He then showed me throughout what he was going to do and even produced the x ray and said this is how the tooth would come out and he made me feel at ease. He began by literally using a lever appliance and it seemed he was digging something out of the ground like a root from a tree and it was a troublesome tooth to remove because it was very much stuck.
After around 10 attempts the tooth seemed to break away from the jaw area and began to slowly rise and eventually popped out and to be honest you never feel it come out it just shows up in the dentist's appliance.
I sat back and looked at the tooth and was surprised by how big it was because it actually seemed smaller inside my mouth and the decay was intense it was growing underneath the gum line and attacking the tooth there which is why the infection was there.
I sat back with gauze in my mouth waiting for the blood to stop and after five minute the dentist removed the gauze and said to follow his instructions on a leaflet. He then said any questions and I had many to ask him and he put my mind at rest with plenty of information to keep my mind calm and to remain cautious.
Leaving the dentist I felt happy the tooth was gone but drowsy as if I wanted to go to bed and sleep which is very unlike me.
=== After the tooth went ==
The first few hours were the numbness of the injections I had and I couldn't even feel my own tongue because it was also numb. When this wore off I began having issues with this taste which is just vile.
If you ever have a food you hate to eat and you have that taste around your mouth and cannot remove it this is exactly what this experience is like and it was everywhere, back of the tongue and throat and hard to remove.
The first few drinks were sips of water and it was difficult because I wanted food I was starving so I had to try and eat a yoghurt but the nerves were telling me I might dislodge the blood clot and I was terrified I might do this.
During the night I kept needing drinks because my mouth was always dry but the first morning I looked in the mirror and it was odd it was like the tooth was still there in the hole because the blood clot had grown that big.
Once I began the salt water rinses the blood clot changed colour to a white colour which the dentist explained was the blood clot healing so do not touch it at all. I began the second day having Weetabix it was harmless and easy to swallow but I noticed the swelling on my cheek.
It was not visible to anyone but I felt my muscles in cheek really tighten up and it was hard to even open my mouth so I had to try and make sure I did nothing silly and I began using an ice pack on my face for 20 minutes every hour for a few days and this disappeared.
I never had any pain in the tooth socket at all and this to me was weird and I never needed to take any pain relief either. By the fourth day and just Weetabix and yoghurt I had soup which I hate and it took all my courage to eat this.
I had milk and water throughout the day along with brushing teeth gently and also having salt water rinses and by the end of the week the tooth looked clean and the blood clot began to shrink and the hole resurfaced and it began to heal slow at first but steady afterwards.
== Recovery Process ==
I was given guidelines to follow if I wanted my tooth to make a full recovery and to be honest most are simple and basic common knowledge but some were a shock to me as well.
You need to make sure you have some pain relief in case you have got any sort of pain and also some ice packs in case you get a swelling on the side of the face which can occur and these will help relieve some of that horrible tension you can build up.
Your aim is to make sure the blood clot that develops after the tooth is removed remains in a stable and untouched condition so the healing can start. If this blood clot comes out you are in some trouble especially if done within the first few days.
The first step I was told was not to eat on that side of my mouth for at least one week and to remain on basic simple food such as yoghurt and ice cream and make sure I do not drink or eat anything warm for at least 24 hours.
The dentist said the next morning use salt water rinses four times a day and this will clean the wound but not to pour the water into the mouth but let the mouth bathe in salt water and then remove it and I did this and it worked very well.
I began to notice you cannot drink alcohol nor have a cigarette due to the fact this can affect the blood clot as well and not to use a straw to drink with as the suction can cause the blood clot to dislodge.
After a few days with the salt water rinses I began to add extra food such as fish fingers and custard along with soup and it was just making sure I never put the food onto my bad side and to keep on with the bacteria control.
Brushing teeth is difficult because I had issues avoiding the wound but this will help in the recovery process as well and to make sure you just keep an eye on not touching the area with your tongue because as my dentist told me the tongue holds more bacteria on it then a human hand (unsure how true that is).
== Potential Problems ==
The reason I write a review like this is to share my experiences because people read horror stories online and you have to remember we are all different in our healing and what sort of tooth we have out.
Some teeth are impacted and they are underneath the gum requiring potentially stitches and if that is the case your guidelines might be entirely different compared to my own.
The one problem is something named dry socket. This is the biggest fear for anyone having a wisdom tooth out and this is caused by the blood clot falling out or being burst by the patient. What happens is the tooth is healing underneath the blood clot and the body wants to seal the hole and create new bone to replace the huge gap you have.
If the blood clot within the first four days disappears you get dry socket which is the hole exposed to the open air and the first issue is the immense pain. If you're unsure how horrible this is the stories are all over the internet.
You could develop an infection and no pain relief seems to relieve the symptoms. Your aim is to revisit the dentist to have him pack the hole up with antibiotics to stop a potential infection and to sort out the brutal pain.
The dry socket is apparently only common in around 5% of all extractions and if you smoke you are likely to develop it but the biggest cause is people not doing as they are told in terms of what food they eat and touching the wound with their tongues or fingers.
Infections are another common problem because if you have a wisdom tooth which has bacteria already inside this might have gone lower into the roots and when the tooth is removed you could have food fall inside and develop into an infection so the salt water rinses are there to help avoid this situation.
I think the last problem which apparently is extremely rare is problems with the nerves such as damage. I have no idea how accurate the internet is or my own dentist but if the tooth has been complicated to remove it can be an issue with nerve damage.
== Summary ==
Having a troublesome wisdom tooth out and recovering is heaven. You have no longer got to worry about that horrible infection pain or the wisdom tooth bothering you again.
There is a potential downside for a few weeks with odd meals and the worry you might not heal but with the right food, cleaning and doing as you were told by the dentist you should be okay.
I think the tooth and how it is shaped and pulled is essential to recovery. My worry is that not all dentist are confident in pulling out a tooth because people and the toothpaste and brushes out there make tooth extractions less common then they were.
Make sure you have confidence in the dentist and ask questions if you're unsure like I did without asking you would never be able to get any sleep afterwards.
I have recently had my wisdom teeth removed, as all 4 of mine were causing pain in my face and head, and there just was not enough room in my mouth for them to stay. The one wisdom tooth on the top left gum was actually stuck in the gum as there was just not enough space for it to come through.
My dentist decided that all 4 needed to come out and it was best to take them all out at once, so I was referred to hospital for an operation to extract all 4 under a general anesthetic. I was in quite a bit of pain, and had infection after infection so I was kind of looking forward to them being taken out. I was also having problems with the teeth ripping the inside of my cheeks, as some of the wisdom teeth and spiked through sideways.
I went in for my Wisdom Teeth Extraction on July 29th, and I went to a hospital near me that I had not been to before. There were some after problems with my operation, but this was because of the hospital, not because of the actual extraction itself. I was told by the hospital staff of all problems that could occur before I was taken into theatre. There were chances that the extraction could cause nerve damage in my face, cause numbness in the mouth and face and also open a contact point between the mouth and sinuses. Luckily none of this happened to me, and these are rare occurences, but something that you do have to be aware of.
After I woke up, I didn't really feel anything in my face, other than a sore throat. I was given painkillers (Codiene on an empty stomach!!) and sent back to the ward. I was just told to sleep for a while, and not offered anything else to drink. I also noticed that I had not been given a drip to keep me hydrated through the operation, like I had with all other operations I have ever had.
My face was only a tiny bit swollen after the operation, and I was quite surprised as I was expecting to look like a hamster. I felt a bit crappy, but this was due to the painkillers and the affects of the anesthetic. My throat was a little bit sore, and it felt like a small amount of burning when I drank, or ate yoghurt. I could hardly get my mouth to open, so eating anything other than a small spoonful of yoghurt at a time was impossible. I had to drink through a straw, but sucking hurt so had to have only a small amount at a time!
After a couple of days, I noticed the burning pain when eating or drinking was getting worse, even when eating ice cream. It started to get to the point where just swallowing alone would reduce me to tears. This went on for the best part of 4 days, and when I finally got to see the nurse at my local doctors surgery, she confirmed I had an ulcerated throat and an infection in my throat from the tube that had been put down my throat during the operation. This should have been inserted up my nose, to allow my mouth to be accesible, but alas this was not the case and this caused rippage and ulceration of the lining of my throat.
I was giving antibiotics and very strong painkillers, although it was so painful to take the pills, this made me cry. I was given the painkillers in liquid form but this did not seem to kill the pain. I had not eaten and hardl drank for a week by the time the antibiotics kicked in.
As the days went on, I could slowly open my mouth a little bit more each day, and I could feel the stitches in my gums. These were dissolvable and as they started to dissolve, they were hanging into my mouth and I could feel the rubbing on my tongue now and then. Amazingly the whole time I was healing, I never really felt any pain my mouth, more so in my throat. It took about a week before I could eat again, and as long as I chewed carefully and slowly, there were no problems with anything to eat.
4 Months on, and my mouth is now perfectly fine. It was a little bit strange at first getting used to the extra space in my mouth, and when brushing I had to be careful nearer to the back of my mouth as the gums were a little bit tender.
If you ever need to have wisdom teeth removed, it is a scary procedure but it does have to be done. I had a bit of a harsh time with the recovery, but this is a rare problem and most people do not have too much trouble when it comes to wisdom teeth removal. For getting rid of the pain and any problems you are having, I totally recommend that you have the extraction done, after the operation is done and the healing complete, you will be pain free and have extra space in your mouth!
I thought I would add my tuppence worth to this review and hopefully dispel some of the myths that surround wisdom teeth!
I have had all of mine taken out (done whilst I was a dental student) under local anaesthetic but by an oral surgeon as the lower two were impacted.
Wisdom teeth, third molars or 8's as they are known usually erupt between 18-23years, they often arrive later but not usually earlier. They are the last tooth in the arch (although some people have 9's!) and are the most commonly congenitally missing tooth. They start to develop in the jaw at around 9-10years
In the olden days, when our diet consisted of bread with stones in, and there was no dental care available to people, by the time we got to the age of 20, we had almost certainly lost one or more of our other molars and the wisdom teeth would have space to erupt, thus helping us chew our food for another 15 years or so.
Now, most people retain their molar teeth, perhaps due to the availability of dental care (perhaps!) or better education and a more refined diet. All through your teens, your Wisdom teeth are brewing around in the jaw bone and when (as is their destiny) the time arrives for them to erupt, there isn't enough room for them to fully grow through.
When they cant erupt, this is called impaction. Wisdom teeth can be impacted into bone, soft tissue or tooth, or a combination of these three. If it's impacted into bone, this means a bit of jaw bone at the back is covering the tooth (or part of it) thus preventing eruption. This is usually associated with soft tissue impaction-the annoying flappy bit of gum over the tooth that is called "operculum". If the tooth is impacted into tooth, this usually means it is pushing into the back of the second molar or tooth 7.
When teeth erupt normally, the "epithelium" of your gum seals the tooth off, this means the bacteria in your mouth cannot get down the root of the tooth. If the wisdom tooth is partially erupted, part of the tooth may be poking through the gum. This means the gum isnt sealed off corectly and bacteria can flood around the rest of the tooth-think of the erupted bit of tooth as the tip of the iceberg.
It is impossible to stop the bacteria getting around the tooth like that, although keeping things as clean as possible will definitely help, and antibiotics are a brilliant treatment. Because the infection is living without Oxygen, it is termed anaerobic and metronidazole is a great treatment for anaerobic infections. You must never ever drink alcohol whilst taking Metronidazole though. It has an antbuse effect (google it) and will make you poorly poorly!
Just to make matters even more exciting, there is a nerve in your jaw called the Inferior Dental Nerve (sometimes Inferior Alveolar Nerve) that supplies sensation to your lip. Add to that the Lingual Nerve (which comes from the same branch of the trigeminal nerve as the ID nerve) which runs along the inside of your jawbone and supplies sensation to your tongue. The roots of your wisdom teeth can often lie very close or even wrap round, your ID nerve. The lingual nerve is basically between your wisdom tooth and your tongue (but tucked into the skin there!).
This all makes for a very complicated procedure if the wisdom tooth need extraction. There's not much room back there!
The position and orientation of the tooth, along with the position of the ID nerve (which can be seen on an x-ray) and patient factors such as nervousness, mouth opening, support available etc etc, are things that your dentist will take into account when deciding whether or not she shoudl take the tooth out or refer you to hospital.
Sometimes, a large part of the problem can be caused by the top wisdom tooth (these normally erupt ok, maybe a little bit outside towards your cheek) chewing on the operculum (the flappy bit of gum). This can be really painful and simply taking the top one out can relieve the problems enormously. Taking top wisdom teeth out is easy peasy in 99.9% of cases and if this will fix you, it's much much better to have this done than to get the bottom ones done if they don't need to be done.
When it comes to extracting the bottom ones, it's something all dentists (certainly in the UK) are trained to do. It's something we try to avoid in General Practice though-it's not a great practice builder, unless you have an oral surgeon on site. I always think if I do it, my patients will think I'm horrid, I'd much rather they came back to me and said "that oral surgeon is horrid" and I can give them sympathy!
Aside from the issues with the nerves that I mentioned earlier, one issue with wisdom teeth (and the thing that makes them sore afterwards) is bone removal. The bone that is covering the tooth and quite possibly a significant amount more will need removing. This takes ages to heal and is painful afterwards. Also remember that you'll have your mouth open for quite some time so that will be sore in the morning too.
Having said that, I'm delighted to have had mine out, the bad taste I had from them having chronic infection has gone, I can open my mouth wider than before and I don't get ear ache anymore. Perfect.
There are pretty strict guidelines that must be met before you can have your wisdom teeth taken out, unfortunately you can't have it done prophylactically so even if I know that a patient will have problems, I can't send him to have his 8's out until he has been to see me with acute problems twice in any 12 months, there is gross decay in the 8 or it is causing decay in the 7 (tooth in front), it is involved in an area that is being operated on for cancer, it needs to be taken out to repair a fracture or there is a cyst or abscess.
If I've missed something out tell me, it's a long time since I wrote an essay on the subject!
Hope it helps
This review was originally written on Ciao in February 2007, two days after having my wisdom teeth out.
-----The Background to my teeth------
I was 19 when I first started noticing my wisdom teeth coming through. I joked that I wanted them to come through by the time I had my exams at Uni that year - thought the extra wisdom might be useful! My teeth didn't really seem to do a lot - and didn't really come through. There were a few aches and pains, but nothing that would really constitute toothache, and couldn't be solved with a couple of paracetomol.
My teeth have always been pretty much perfect. The dentist always told me so anyway - perhaps this can be attributed to my use of Ultrabrite toothpaste, or perhaps I have just been very lucky. Probably the latter!
However, all this changed one evening at a school sixth form ball in 1998 when I was drunk (nothing new there then), dancing to Step's "5678" (and it's very rare that I dance), and it went "5, 6, 7, SPLAT!" As a result I lost the bottom (well it couldn't really be the top!) half of one of my top front teeth. I looked like a hideous monster (nothing new there then, again!). Anyway, this was all sorted out at the time (over about 6 months of rebuilding the tooth), luckily I was 17 still so it was free on the NHS. Although my teeth would never be perfect again, the filling at the front shows up in photos and especially after drinking red wine.
Ok, you're wondering what this has to do with my wisdom teeth? Nothing really, but it's background information, and I want to let you know about it! I had problems with this front filling 6 years later (i.e. it fell out a week before the wedding, got fixed, and fell out again three weeks later on the honeymoon over a bacon sandwich), so the Mary Monster returned. While I was having a rather expensive private consultation to sort it out the dentist took an X-ray of my mouth and found that I had an impacted wisdom tooth. At the time it wasn't causing any problems, and I put it to the back of my mind/mouth...whatever!
Anyway in January 2006 I had my first proper taste of toothache, and I didn't like it one bit! Hubby had had tooth problems and while I had been the sympathetic wife (although giving him a lecture on not cleaning his teeth properly), I couldn't really appreciate what he had been through, and the pain...oh the pain. It always seems to be far worse at night. Because one colleague was already off sick I didn't take any time off work, although I probably should have. While at work I phoned the emergency dentist and they managed to get me an appointment for the next day at a dentists in Carlisle.
The dentist took x-rays and confirmed that the back right wisdom tooth and one above it needed to come out. However, with it being impacted it wasn't as simple as him being able to do it then and there. He gave me a course of antibiotics (the nasty Metranidozole which you CANNOT drink alcohol with - one of the few antibiotics you actually can't mix with alcohol - the others it's just not recommended - so my dad the GP has told me). I was very lucky as I got to register with the dental practice (on the NHS!) because I needed to be registered to go on the wisdom tooth removal waiting list! My colleague was not impressed as she had been trying to get on an NHS list for months.
A couple of months later I had an assessment at Whitehaven hospital. That was a bit of a nightmare as I couldn't find the right department - I went to A & E, breast screening, and a doctors' staffroom before I got to the dental department! I waited around, had an X-ray, waited again (not nice since once man proceeded to tell me all about his mouth cancer, and I felt terrible for being there when all I had was a wisdom tooth), and then had a consultation where the dentist informed me that yes, I needed the top and bottom right wisdom teeth out.
To be honest the whole thing seemed to be a waste of my time and NHS money. If my dentist had just forwarded them the initial X-ray then surely they'd have been able to see this. I did ask the consultant, and her response was "Oh, the dentists don't send us X-rays!" At this time I opted for the local anaesthetic and the sedation, rather than the general anaesthetic. As I have never had a general before and there is a minimal risk of death, I thought it was probably wise not to have a general when it wasn't absolutely necessary.
Anyway, I was told that the wait would be up to 6 months, so I was expecting to have them out in September 2006. So, I put it to the back of my mind. In August 2006 I got bad toothache again (I had had the odd bit of toothache, but nothing major), but this time it was in the left side. I looked in my mouth and could see that there was this flap of skin over the wisdom tooth and that had got infected. Went to the dentist, got more Metranizole and anti-inflammatories as well. He told me that I should ask the hospital to remove that one as well. So, I phoned up the hospital and they said that wouldn't be possible as I'd have to go on a waiting list. The next day I got a letter asking if I still wanted to be on the waiting list for the other 2 teeth (coincidence, I think not). Yes, of course I did, I didn't want to go back to the bottom of the list.
So anyway, I resigned myself to the fact that I'd only get out the badly impacted one, and the one above it, and that the other one would have to wait. In the meantime, my front tooth filling chipped and I had to have that repaired. I was told that I need to get a crown really, but that I should wait until after the wisdom tooth removal in case they knocked things around in my mouth - this didn't fill me with confidence!
Six months came and went, and my teeth were behaving, so I didn't really feel the need or desire to pursue it. I think it's like any pain - when you're not in it, you forget just how bad it was. So, I was surprised when in January I received a letter asking me to make an appointment for the removal, and even more surprised when I phoned and we scheduled the operation for 21st February. It was a good time since work is quiet during half-term at school so I could easily have a few days off. I don't generally have sick leave (I have had one day in 2 years, which is quite a lot for me!), but I thought that I'd quite like a couple of days off sick - things not going to well at work at the moment!
I received a confirmation letter and an information 'booklet'. The booklet was actually a piece of paper which told me that I needed to eat a light lunch beforehand, wear flat shoes, not drive for 24 hours, and have someone to take me home. I felt a bit in the dark, so did my own research on wisdom tooth removal on the Internet. This was probably not a wise idea as I read a load of horror stories about damaged nerves and paralysis of the jaw. I felt that I would have liked to have been given a bit more information. I am an intelligent person, and I was able to carefully access the pros and cons of the removal, but I am worried that some people (for whatever reason) may not be able to make an informed decision as I was.
Hubby picked me up from work at 2:30pm on Wednesday (21st Feb), and drove to the Cumberland Infirmary (in Carlisle) - they only remove teeth there, not in Whitehaven which is our nearer hospital to home, but since I work in Carlisle it was actually fairly convenient. The hospital looked very nice, despite a load of people huddled smoking by the entrance despite large signs saying that the hospital would be Smoke-free from September 2006! Put it this way, I was glad to be there rather than Whitehaven hospital which looks like it could collapse at any minute!
It was easy to find the dental department as it's the first bit you come to in the hospital! I signed in at 2:55pm, appointment was 3:15pm, and I actually went in 10 minutes early - now that must be a first! I sat on the dental chair, and hubby sat in there while they went through a few things. I mentioned the bottom left tooth, and the dentist said that she could easily take that one out as well as it was a simple one. I was really pleased about that! I also asked if I could keep the teeth, and the dentist said yes - I have kept all of my baby teeth you see - yes, it's weird I know!
My blood pressure and pulse were taken (all was normal), and hubby left the room. The sedation was what I had been most worried (but also most excited) about. The surgeon informed me that I would feel drunk and not know what was happening - sounds good to me! I was given the local anaesthetic and then the sedation. To be honest while I felt very relaxed I did fee like I was with it the whole time. Everyone has said that under sedation you won't remember the operation. I am sure I remember the whole thing although it was a little bit blurry I must admit....the bottom left came out first, then the more complicated impacted bottom right. This involved a bit of tapping and breaking up the tooth. Then the top right tooth (I kept the top left). The surgeon stitched me up and then I walked to the recovery room. Two nurses tried to help me, but I was confident I could walk on my own - and I could.
Hubby joined me in the recovery room 5 minutes later. I was hooked up to a blood pressure and pulse machine, which took my BP every so often. A nurse sat in there to monitor me. All I wanted to do was talk (I do talk a lot at the best of times), which was hard as my mouth was numb, and I was spitting blood. The nurse was very nice, and cleaned the blood around my mouth. I asked for some water and I poured it down me as I missed my mouth! Hubby went to get my prescription of Metranidozole (again), and I did a test to show I could walk in a straight line - to be honest I was a bit disappointed by the lack of effect of the sedative. Anyway, then we left and went home!
We got home at 5:15pm. When you consider that it is about an hour's drive, that means that the operation and recovery in the hospital was under an hour. Much quicker than I'd expected. I lay down and watched 'Neighbours' - one of the few times hubby didn't moan about it!
There was quite a lot of blood, and I spent the evening spitting very gently into a tissue. I didn't need to use the gauze I was given as the gums didn't start bleeding properly. In fact the bleeding had stopped completely about 10 hours later. I wasn't given any painkillers, was told just to take paracetomol - not aspirin due to the bleeding.
So, Wednesday night I didn't sleep well, and ended up watching "Brother Bear" at 2am. Since the bleeding had stopped, on Thursday I introduced aspirin into my pain relief, so then I could take the maximum of paracetomol and aspirin (I always do this and it works very well). I did however find that I was very very tired, and slept Thursday afternoon. Thursday night was better, I woke up, but managed to go back to bed once the painkillers kicked in. Yesterday (Friday) was good, and I even went out - but I felt so tired just walking a little distance (I bought more painkillers, and thought I'd try some different ones!). Last night again was quite bad, and today I just feel so tired.
It's not pain as such - it's just the aching. My mouth is swollen and I look a bit like a hamster. I have been eating, soup, pasta and ice cream (that was very soothing). I did have a piece of pizza which I ate VERY slowly, and chewed using only my front teeth. This did make my jaw ache later. I have been cleaning my teeth, yesterday I knocked one of the stitches, but although it hurt luckily it didn't start bleeding. I have also been rinsing my mouth out with saltwater regularly. This isn't particularly nice, but makes me feel that I'm doing something! I do feel like I have bad breath (hubby confirmed) and this isn't very nice. The stitches are also a bit annoying as I keep thinking they are food!
I am glad that I had two days off work. I wasn't particularly ill, but I don't think I'd have coped with getting to work (even though I don't drive there) and being so tired. Today I feel very tired. But I'm finding that doing things like typing this review is taking my mind off the pain, and keeping me busy.
All in all the pain hasn't been as bad as I expected - it's just moderate toothache really (except the teeth aren't there). I am happy knowing that my wisdom teeth won't cause me any more problems. The stitches should dissolve in a few days, and the swelling should go down in a week or so.
-----Nearly a year later-----
The healing process went very well. I could feel the stitches in my mouth for about 10 days which was a bit weird. The pain soon subsided and I was back at work the following Monday as planned - I kept up with the saltwater for about a week. Two weeks following the extraction it was like it had never happened, except that I have my teeth in a little pot in my drawer!
One thing that annoyed me at the time was comments from people saying "I had mine out at the dentist and it didn't hurt at all". The chances are that these were simple removals. Mine certainly couldn't have been done at the dentist (well not at my dental surgery anyway). It is the impacted one which really causes the pain. I'm not an expert on teeth, and looking at sites like http://www.animated-teeth.com/wisdom_teeth/t1wisdomtooth.htm give more information. There seem to be different types of impacting teeth, so maybe all three of mine were impacted, but only one in the really bad way - the one which they left is apparently in a perfect state! In the past people had wisdom teeth removed for no apparent reason and this was not a good thing. The NICE clinical guidelines now state that healthy wisdom teeth should not be removed - http://www.nice.org.uk/page.aspx?o=509 It is also costly to the NHS to remove teeth for no reason!
So, certainly if wisdom teeth are causing problems, talk to your dentist about it (you should do this anyway of course). Of course there are risks, and I had to sign a form to say I understood that things might go wrong. I guess I was quite lucky having them out in the hospital as it meant I didn't have to pay anything! At the end of the day, a bit of toothache meaning no more toothache has got to be a good thing. Mine hadn't caused a lot of problems in comparison to some peoples', but I was told that if I didn't have it removed it would almost certainly damage the tooth in front, so it's got to be worth it!
I don't feel any less wise, and I got lots of sympathy from hubby, and flowers from my mum - so all in all a pretty good experience! Better than being at work anyway :o)
Also published on Ciao by marymoose99.