The extraction blues

toothacheOh god.

In about three hours I’m having a tooth pulled. I’ve never had that done before, but I’ve had nightmares about it for several years—actually, ever since the night the tooth actually broke. It’s a molar on the bottom right; I was crunching on an antacid tablet, and suddenly there was something foreign in my mouth that I couldn’t crunch. It was too hard. I took it out and… wow. Part of a tooth.

I was shocked. There was no pain. I went into the bathroom and peered into my mouth. Sure enough, there was no tooth surrounding the visible side of one of my bottom right molars. The old filling, done at least 40 years before, was still there, though, standing tough and alone.

I’d been laid off from work a month before. I had no dental insurance and my budget was already as tight as it could go. Screaming, actually. I didn’t have the spare hundreds I’d need for dental work, and all dental work, even the most routine, costs hundreds.

The broken tooth didn’t hurt. I could live with it. Once I found another job, I reasoned, and had medical and dental insurance again, I’d get it fixed.

I’m embarrassed to say that was several years ago. I never found another job. I was able to get medical care through the VA, as I’m a veteran, but they don’t provide dental care.

So I waited, hoping that the tooth would just endure.  And it did—until about two weeks ago.  The pain was minor, at first, but as the days passed it got worse and worse.  Finally, I broke down and went to a dentist.

Let me say here that I have a lifelong terror of dental work. It’s lame, I know, but along with the cost, it’s the reason I let that tooth go for so long. I’d break into a cold sweat every time I thought about getting that tooth fixed. I had long, lurid nightmares about it. I’d wake up gasping.

And now, well, the tooth is sick. There’s an abscess at the roots. It hurts like you-know-what. So, the day has come. I’ll get through it; millions do.

Wish me luck?

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11 responses to “The extraction blues

  1. Oh, my goodness, Wren. Yes, of course I wish you luck … and courage … and an easy time of it all. I’ve never had an extraction, but I’ve had several crowns and root canals. It’s all stressful. The good thing is you actually will feel better when it’s all over. Do take care of yourself.

  2. As most painful things you will look back on this and wish you had done this earlier. At least they have good painkillers, good luck!

  3. By the time you read your comments, it will all be over. Just remember not to smoke and no caffeine for a few days, also no drinking through straws. Just leave all well alone, healing inside the mouth takes care of itself. What you need is lots of distraction.

  4. Hope it went well and you are on the mend quickly

  5. I suppose it’s all over by now, Wren. Reading your story was like reading about myself, except my tooth still isn’t fixed, has a temporary (knock on wood). When they started talking about cutting away some of the bone to fit a crown, I said hold the presses! Still not sure what I will do. Hate the dentist, too! Hope you’re doing well.

  6. Oh wow…I hope it went smoothly…I can’t help but chuckle a little at this post, not due to what you are going through, but because of a previously scheduled post of my own due to publish tomorrow… about a visit to the dentist , under slightly different circumstances :)
    Take care of yourself and heal well.
    J.G.

  7. Good luck. Ouch! I know this hurts. Both the pain of the tooth and the pain you are going to feel when they tell the price to fix it. So very sorry!

  8. I do hope you’re feeling better by now! I’ve been there and done that and you have my sympathy! Ouch! There is nothing good to be said about having someone’s hands in your mouth; distress seems a natural reaction.

  9. In my book, dentists are better than orthodontists. With the latter, you get long bouts of drawn-out pain and discomfort. But good dentists sock it to you quickly and then you’re ready for action again. And I love those comfy dentist chairs. A dream of mine is to buy one for my retirement and use it as a reading chair. I’m crossing my fingers that your dentist made you feel comfortable and that you’re okay!

  10. Oh dear, Wren – how unlucky! I’ve got the dentist myself on Friday, 3 fillings. Yikes. Not too happy about it either, but at least it’s over quickly and it’s something that can be fixed!!

  11. We share this fear! I have hated dentists since a few horrible childhood experiences with a bad dentist. But I will say…there are some terrific dentists out there. I have found one here and had two root canals and caps and one extraction done. Like you I avoided dentists at ALL costs. My teeth finally had to be dealt with and I wills say…it went just fine. I did find a dentist that is sensitive to people who fear dentists. He is fantastic and worked with me personally. Now the medications he used is a whole different story as you know how I react or do just the opposite on most meds. But we found a great combo for me. We used gas and the shots in the gums (which he numbs the gums first so you don’t feel a thing). Just be sure that this dentist will listen to you while he is doing the extraction. Come up with a code…you will raise you hand, finger or something to make a noise to let him know you feel anything. He can then give you more novicain. And by the way…they have several different types of novacane available to use. Good luck and my prayers are out there for you. From a conspirator in dental work avoidance :-)