It was meant to be just another routine cleaning – the standard set of x-rays, plaque scraping, brushing, flossing, followed by a joyful exit away with goodie bag in tow (this dentistry goes out of their way with the goodie bag, take a look at my Instagram for proof – but that didn’t quite happen, kind of.
Since I haven’t had x-rays in sometime, no one has really checked up on my wisdom teeth to see what they’ve been up to. The general assumption was that they weren’t ever coming down. Of course, though, what is the first rule you learn in many situations? Don’t make assumptions.
“Your teeth are really healthy, even the enamel,” said the hygienist. “Even the wisdom teeth – they’re just growing at 90˚ on the bottom, though. The other bottom wisdom tooth isn’t growing at 90˚ but it is certainly pushing up against your second molar.” I’m pretty sure that could be translated to “take them out, stat.”
Now, this took a minute to process. I didn’t think it was possible for a tooth to grow at a completely wrong angle (i.e. sideways), but there you have it, folks, anything is possible, even with teeth.
Soon after, the dentist arrived – Dr. Karen Ip. Somewhere in between exchanges of hello and looks at my x-rays, we discussed the depressions left on my molars (or “dimples,” as I optimistically spun it) due to my clenching and advised on a mouthguard that is thicker than those fancy Invisalign braces, but not thick enough to be used for field hockey. That’s right – my immediate thought was whether or not I could use the $900 mouthpiece for more than “just sleeping.”
But back to those darn wisdom teeth. The real concern wasn’t the one growing in at 90˚, but the one that was getting too comfortable with his friend, second molar. This act of getting too cozy meant that if anything bad were to happen, they’d both go down together – sounds a little Bonnie and Clyde, doesn’t it? Anyway, it was certain that that one would have to be extracted, and it would be up to a consult by a referral to determine the fate of the rest of’em.
So arrives my 8:45 AM appointment the following Thursday with Dr. Michael Marshall, the oral surgeon. Upon taking another round of x-rays with a rotating scanner (if you need a visual, think of that ridiculous 360˚ body scanner where you are in mid-jumping jack position), not only do we notice the all-too-cozy wisdom tooth, but also the 90˚ fellow who is also trying to warm his way up to his second molar neighbour. In short, the suggestion was just to remove them all.
At this point, my options are for just local anesthetic around my mouth or a little bit of general anaesthesia to calm me down from waving my arms in the air as we go about sawing my gums down. You can guess what I opted for by the subsequent use of my cellphone to have someone pick me up thereafter. I honestly thought I’d just be able to walk out Liz Lemon style, or at least be hallucinating like she did after Jack Donaghy picked her up from the dentist’s office.
Since I wasn’t completely under, I did have the thrills of hearing mini saws cut around my gums, and little picks crack at my wisdom teeth, followed by mini pliers for extraction. Really, it wasn’t that glorious, but it sure was fun to kind of watch. I figured I might as well enjoy it all since the bill was almost $2300 (even after dental insurance). Really, I just opted to dub it a “once in a lifetime experience” crossed off my bucket list. And hey, I had a view.
The subsequent hours aren’t really that much fun – trust me. Walking over to CVS with gauze in your mouth and pointing to your ID as proof of age and standing about in pain as the numbing wears off isn’t as difficult as trying to shove the ibuprofen and amoxicillin over what you believe to be an engorged tongue (when really, everything is just numb) and dribbling enough water for you to swallow.
So, that loopy feeling that you’re supposed to have pain killers? Nothing. The extreme pain? Not really. Discomfort? Oh yes!
It’s one of those times that you thank websites like Seamless and Delivery.com, because there really is no way to phone in an order and you don’t want to go outside at all, especially since for the first few hours, your mouth looks like you were part of Tyler Durden’s Fight Club. But after living off congee and being holed up for two days, there’s nothing like showing your blown-up face off to the world in all its glory by grocery shopping for Orthodox Easter and treating yourself to tea and much more savoury soft foods.
There you go, my somewhat forgotten about and somewhat loved wisdom teeth are now lost, hacked into little bits and only to be remembered by a $2000+ bill. At least, they chose to leave some kind of impression on my life (although I’d have just preferred the sentimental value of keeping the large chunks of enamel as opposed to the tab).