Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wisdom Teeth Problems? Here's What I Learned

As much as I love it, I'm convinced popcorn is the Devil's food. I've had more dental complications (a chipped porcelain cap, pieces I couldn't get out from between my teeth, etc.) from this, my favorite snack! I try to stay away from it, but recently, on a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I caved and grabbed a sample of Amish kettle corn. 


My wisdom tooth cracked! 

It was a wisdom tooth, one that already had a large filling in it. A visit to my dentist confirmed that the tooth was unrepairable. It would have to come out. I, of course, panicked.

I'd heard HORROR stories about people getting their wisdom teeth out – how much pain and suffering was involved. 

So I did what every anal person does and researched the teeth, the procedure, and, since I had the thing extracted yesterday, want to share some of my new wisdom with you. Note: I am not a medical professional. I'm just a lay person sharing her experience and what she's learned. Here goes:

About The Teeth

These third molars have been called “teeth of wisdom” since the Seventeenth Century. Since they appear far later than other teeth (between the ages of 17 and 25) and at an age when a person is maturing into adulthood, it is “wiser” than when other teeth have come in. (Source: www.deardoctor.com)

According to my oral surgeon, they're actually relics from earlier times when ancient people had much larger jaws. Evolution has made our jaws much smaller and sometimes, when these molars are misaligned, they come in horizontally, may be angled toward or away from the second molars, or be angled inward or outward. This can crowd or damage the adjacent teeth, jawbone or nerves.  Ow!

About The Procedure – It's All About The Place

How simple or complicated the procedure is depends on their position and stage of development. My tooth was on the top and already erupted, so it was taken out like any other tooth. But a third molar that's underneath the gum line and embedded in the jawbone means the doctor will make an incision into the gums and then remove a portion of bone that lies over the tooth. According to webmd.com, “often, for a tooth in this situation, the tooth will be extracted in small sections rather than removed in one piece to minimize the amount of bone that needs to be removed to get the tooth out.”


About My Experience

Fortunately, my fears were mostly unfounded. Again, because the molar was on top and already erupted, the doctor gave me a few shots of Novocaine. Then there was a lot of rocking of the tooth. The weirdest parts were the “cracks” I heard as the tooth came out. I made him stop once or twice because it was so unnerving. After the tooth was out (and I got it – for the Tooth Fairy, you know), the surgeon put a few stitches in. He gave me a prescription for Tylenol with codeine (which I never did get filled). I kept gauze in my mouth for the first hour after the extraction, but my mouth still tasted like blood for most of the night.

Now, 24 hours later, it's just sore. I've been drinking kefir and eating ice cream. I'm also taking Advil for the pain, but it's really not too bad. Tonight I'll begin rinsing with salt water to help with healing and later this week, I get my stitches out. 

So what did I learn from this experience?

  • Don't believe the hype. Just because others have had terrible experiences getting their wisdom teeth out, doesn't mean you will.
  • It can be survived. Having my wisdom tooth isn't something I would choose to do, but compared to other experiences (giving birth, root canals), it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated.
  • Popcorn is not worth the pain it causes.
  • Any experience where a doctor TELLS you to eat ice cream, can't be all terrible. 

Oh, and just for the record, the Tooth Fairy was good to me and left me these:

For even more about wisdom teeth, visit this great article from webmd.com.

Thanks for reading!

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