I went in for my usual 6 mos dental check-up. They complimented my “home care” which made me feel sneaky and smug because I don’t floss. And my teeth were so shiny that they didn’t even ASK if I did, so I was spared my shameful bi-annual floss lie. Plus, I have this drive to be a Good Patient, so if I can get a gold star without even doing the work…well, that will make it just like school, won’t it? But that drive to be a Good Patient also caused me to find myself in the lobby of an oral surgeon, finally making an appointment to get those wisdom teeth extracted.
Back in my grad school days, before I’d developed my healthy terror of all things dental, I responded to a call for volunteers to have wisdom teeth removed, free, in exchange for participating in a pain-relief study. Yeah, no chance in hell I’d do that now, but at the time it seemed like a great deal, given my lack of insurance of any kind. It turned out that I had two teeth that were just coming in like good little teeth and no big deal and two that were headed in sideways. They chose to remove the easy ones. I’ve been toting the problem teeth around for about 20 years. Typing that just gave me sadness. I’m old.
At most every dental visit since, a dentist has told me those will have to come out. One is still inside the gum, causing trouble only in that it might be pushing on its neighbor and causing sensitivity (that’s the bully tooth). The other one, on the bottom, is partly through the gum, creating a nice place for food to hang out and cause the tooth to decay and they’d have to go after little broken bits of tooth and ACK! I brush that tooth and care for it like it was a Fabrege egg, albeit one that sometimes smells like cabbage. But I know it must go, before things get ugly. But oh the anxiety. So I have ignored and put it off until today, when I made the appointment for the intial xrays and consultation. I’ve met the surgeon, he goes to the kids’ synagogue, he seems really gentle (as opposed to gentile), but I am not calmed. I was not helped by the word find stacked on a clipboard at the appointment desk. First two words: Anesthetic and Bone Graft. My heart kicked it up a bit just reading that. Thanks, Doc! How about Dry Socket or Suppurating? Insurance Denial or Nausea? Mouthful of Blood?