Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting my wisdom teeth removed

A while ago I noticed a pain in my jaw at the back-where my wisdom teeth were growing. It was bad for a few days and I decided I had better make a dentist appointment. My first time going to a German dentist.

I explained to the dentist that I'd been having some pain in my jaw but stressed that the pain was now gone- I was trying to underplay it as much as possible- I was really hoping he would just say it was normal pain from the teeth growing. But he just took one look at my mouth and said something like "Die zwei mussen unbedingt raus"- those two have to go. And then sent me for an x-ray to see about the other teeth. When the x-ray was ready we both looked at it together. Everything looked great to me, but he said that all four would have to be removed. The news I had been dreading! So I made an appointment for when to get it done. The two left wisdom teeth first and then the right two about a month later. He told me he would perform the surgery on a Wednesday morning and write me a sick note for work for Wednesday through Friday. So I would have those days to recover- then the weekend and then be back to work on Monday.

Yes I went home and googled it, and asked friends about their experiences if they had had theirs removed.Some friends reassured me- it's fine, it's over in no time, don't worry about it. And others told me their horror stories- needing 8 injections as they didn't take effect, a black and blue face for days, not being able to eat for a week and my favourite, drooling blood- yuck! The main advice was to stock up on soup and soft foods like yoghurt and ice cream.

One of my ex-pat friends kindly offered to accompany me to the dentist. It was really nice of her and we chatted in the waiting room which helped distract me. Once I went in to the dentist room I started feeling really nervous. The dentist came in and had a look at my teeth and gave me three injections- one in my top left gum, bottom left and one in the top of my mouth. The injections were not a problem-not really sore or anything. He left me there waiting in the chair while the injections started taking effect. After a few minutes he popped back and asked if it was working. I said it was. He asked if my tongue and lip were getting numb. I said my tongue felt weird but not my lips. He went off again. When he came back after another 15minutes I told him my lips were still not numb and he said I need to be numb till the middle of my lip- so basically my entire left lower face. So he said he needed to give me more injections- I counted 3 more but it could have been 4. It was fine- at this stage I was so numb I couldn't feel the injections at all. And I wanted to be totally numb so that I wouldn't feel the teeth extractions!

So then there was more waiting for those injections to take effect- I must have been about an hour in that chair waiting. I just really wanted to get it over with! So finally the dentist comes back in with his assistant. At this stage I was numb on the left side of my face to the middle of my lips. He gave me another injection just before he started and he told me that if I could feel anything to let him know.

The actual teeth extraction process only took about 5-10minutes; well that's what it felt like. I felt some tugging on my teeth and a bit of pressure, but it wasn't sore- just a bit weird and I was trying to not think too much about what was going on. At one stage he used a drill but I kept my eyes closed and it didn't hurt at all. I opened my eyes a minute later to see the dentist with big pliers in his hand and I could feel pulling on my teeth then- and at that stage I felt scared that all of a sudden my tooth would come flying out and I'd feel pain, but I honestly felt nothing. I didn't even realise the tooth was out already until I realised he was doing stitches- also not sore. And then it was all over! What a relief!! .

So I would definitely say that the wisdom teeth removal itself is not that bad! The recovery is not so great! I think I was so focused on the dentist tooth pulling out bit that I didn't think much about after. But as the numbness started to wear off my jaw was really sore- it hurt to talk too much even. I took a strong painkiller I'd been prescribed but it was still a constant pain all day. I had some soup, ice cream and some drinks. But I also distracted myself by watching films on the couch- which was nice. I took another painkiller before bed and I slept ok- I made sure to only sleep on my good side.

The dentist was really nice- said I was very brave and even gave me a hug- I felt kind of like a little kid! And he gave my friend in the waiting room a little toothbrush and toothpaste as a thanks for being so patient. But apart from giving me special mouthwash and an ice pack I wasn't given many instructions. When I came home I immediately drank some water though a straw. It was only later I read online that you should not use a straw as it can cause a nasty thing called dry socket.

I woke up to bloody stains on the pillow- yuck- but no pain. Today I haven't needed to take a painkiller. I can also open my mouth more and have been able to eat a bit more- chewing on the good side of my mouth. But the numbness has still not completely gone!! Even now the left side of my chin and lip is numb- and it's been about 28 hours since the operation. My GerMann phoned the dentist for me to ask if that was normal and they said that in some cases the numbness can last up to two weeks!! But it will go away and as long as I can still breath ok, there is no need to panic. I have been reading online that it can happen that a nerve ending is damaged during the wisdom tooth removal and a new nerve has to grow which can take awhile. This is more likely to happen when you are older getting your wisdom teeth removed as the teeth have longer roots.
Well I am glad I will get feeling back eventually but I actually hate the numbness. Such a weird feeling. And it's tricky to eat. Hey- maybe I'll end up loosing some weight! This Saturday we are going to a 30th birthday party so I hope I am fully recovered by then. I also hate the thought that in a month's time I am going to have to go through all of this again with the other two teeth. I won't be as worried about it I suppose as I now know what to expect. .

Well I hope this post hasn't been too negative for anyone who is about to get their wisdom teeth removed. It's not painful- just a bit unpleasant, and yes you will need at least a few days recovery time at least so rent some good dvds and stock up on the soup beforehand! It's not a pleasant experience but you will get through it! My souvenir teeth: