My wisdom teeth came in a long time ago, but really never caused any problems. Every now and then I had occasional pain when they would push through a little, but like a genius… I just ignored that pain. Fast forward several years…
Now I’m 41 and my wisdom teeth have caused A LOT of trouble! It got to the point where there were days where I literally couldn’t eat anything that I had to chew. There were some days where I didn’t even want to talk. When the pain became so troublesome that it was affecting my eating, my other half said it was time to get something done about it. So I reluctantly made the appointment.
First, you should know I am TERRIFIED of the dentist. Actually, no, it’s not the dentist I am scared of. I’m sure most dentists are nice and take care in their work. I am scared of the general act of dentistry. While the salt water fish tanks are nice and soothing to watch in the waiting room, the idea of having needles stuck in my mouth is terrifying.
Secondly, I do not have dental insurance. So anything I have done is self-pay. That can be incredibly costly. I am self-employed so I haven’t sought ought dental insurance because I honestly didn’t want to pay monthly for something I didn’t plan to use often. Another dumb-dumb move.
There was a period of time last year where I took a position for a few months to further professional development. It came with dental insurance so I used it and had a deep cleaning done. Even with insurance it cost me like $300. I had them give me gas so I wouldn’t be quite so observant during the procedure. The worst part was the anxiety. The second worst part was getting the shots in my gums to numb them. The first few weren’t so bad, just little pricks. The deeper ones weren’t painful, just uncomfortable. If I have to be honest, the absolute worst part of the whole ordeal was when I went to pay at the end of the appointment and I drooled all over the desk because I couldn’t feel my lips.
I did talk to that dentist about having my wisdom teeth removed, but there was not enough time for them to refer me to an oral surgeon before my insurance was going to be ending since my job was only temporary. So I just decided I would do it later. However, because the dental work wasn’t quite as scary as I thought it would be, I was definitely open to seeking dental care.
Here we are a year later and ouch… I was miserable. A friend of mine had an oral surgeon he recommended. He, his mother and sister all had their wisdom teeth out by this dentist and he said they all had great experiences. I checked out his website and the reviews, which were all glowing! So when the Mr. decided he was fed up with me not being to eat the same thing as everyone else, I made the appointment with Gregory Scheideman, DDS. Here is my experience…
I made the appointment with the intention of having all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. After talking with the girl who answered the phone we were finally able to find an appointment 3 weeks later on July 17th. I wanted it on a Monday because I had done a lot of research and talked to a lot of people and everyone said I would probably only need one night off work. As I mentioned earlier, I am self employed, but the Mr. is part owner of a billiards club so when they need an extra bartender to cover the shift of someone, I usually volunteer. It’s kind of fun and the extra cash is nice. I have been covering Monday – Wednesday nights for a girl who left to have a baby. I wanted to plan it on a Monday because that is the slowest night and I figured I would be back to work after that.
MISTAKE #1: Having 4 teeth “surgically” removed apparently isn’t the same thing as having them pulled and takes more recovery time. Also, I was about to find out that I was going to have more work done than I expected which meant more recovery time.
My Advice: Make your appointment on the best day that will give you 3-7 days of recovery time if your having them actually surgically removed.
Upon arrival to the office, the girl at the window checked me in, asked if I had someone to drive me home and said it would be just a few minutes. We sat and enjoyed the huge salt water fish tank in the middle of the waiting room. It was actually quite soothing and searching for all of the “Finding Nemo” characters took my mind off of the impending procedure. However, it didn’t last long because after only about 5 minutes, they called my name.
We stepped into the room for the consultation and the nurse took me back for an x-ray. I am happy to say they didn’t have to jam anything into the far corners of my mouth. I just had to step up to a machine and bite down on a little stick while this large plastic orb rotated around my head and took the picture above. I was taken right back to the room.
The dental assistant asked me the basic questions: Are you Cathy? (I’ve gone by Cat for so long it is really weird to hear people refer to me as Cathy. I almost want to start looking around the room for my mom.) I answered yes. He asked if I had any medical issues the dentist needed to know about. Nope. He confirmed what medications I was taking, which at the time was only over the counter ibuprofen for the tooth pain. Then he asked if I had eaten anything in the last 6 hours. WHAT?! I was told I couldn’t eat anything after midnight! My surgery was scheduled at 9:15 am!!
MISTAKE #2: I was told I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink after midnight. I had dinner at like 9:30 pm and then sipped water until around 11:30 pm and then NOTHING!!!! Apparently, it can be life threatening if you eat anything 6 hours before anesthesia . But only 6 hours?!
My advice: If you’re dentist says you can’t have anything after midnight – eat at 11:45 pm! By the time I had my surgery – I was starving AND really couldn’t eat a dang thing!!
While answering questions the dentist came in and introduced himself and asked how I was doing. I told him I’d let him know in an hour or so. He then laid the bomb on me. As you can see from the picture above, my bottom wisdom teeth grew in literally horizontally. I let it go so long that they rubbed up against my second molar’s (you can see which one I mean in the photo below) and basically destroyed them. He said in his professional opinion, he believed they were beyond repair and wouldn’t likely cause more problems and I should have them removed. I gasped and immediately tears sprang to my eyes.
MISTAKE #3: Which is really more like my first mistake: Even though I knew my wisdom teeth were causing problems and that historically they grew horizontally in my family, I still didn’t do anything about it until it was too late.
My advice: DON’T WAIT TOO LONG!! I promise your fear of dentistry is nothing compared to the pain you will have to go through when they start causing problems with you’re other teeth. In addition, I now only have 12 teeth on the bottom. 😦
He said he understood my hesitation, and I had a couple of options. He said I could just have the 4 wisdom teeth taken and then go to a dentist to see if the teeth could be fixed or I could just wait altogether until after I visited with a dentist or I could have them all removed at the same time so that I would only have to be put under once and go through one recovery.
I looked at the Mr. and asked what he thought. He said, “Why don’t you ask them what you really want to know?” Then he looked at the dentist and said: “If she has the other 2 removed from the bottom row will it affect her eating?” I burst into laughter!! One because for once I wasn’t even thinking about food, I was worried about the extra cost since we were paying cash for this procedure! Second, because he was absolutely correct!! That is a big deal to me. So I looked at the dentist and said, “I do love me some food. Will I be able to eat normally with them gone?” He said most people can function quite normally with only 12 teeth on bottom and that if at any time I didn’t think I could, I could always go in and have fake ones put in.
He did say though that one draw back is that in 10 years or so I would probably need to have the same teeth pulled from the top because there are no teeth on the bottom for them to sync up to and it could cause problems long term. But it sounded like the smart move for now. I had waited 3 weeks for the appointment and I respected his opinion so I went for it.
Just a few minutes later they said my room was ready and I was shuffled off to another room. They said the Mr. could stay until the IV was put in, but I knew he wanted a nap so I sent him on his way. After a quick kiss and “Good Luck” from him, he was off to the waiting room and I was on the way to my room.
I sat in the chair and the dental assistant was back. He again confirmed I hadn’t eaten in over 6 hours, took my blood pressure and applied 3 sticky monitors to watch my heart rate (I assume) during the procedure. Since this was a surgery I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to change into a gown or something, but nope. One monitor went on my ankle and I honestly don’t remember where the other 2 went. I think on my left arm in 2 different spots.
The dentist came in and sat next to me and put a splint type device on my arm and explained it was to keep my arm straight during the procedure so that my IV wouldn’t come out. He said the needle was the smallest available for IV’s and I would only feel a small pinch. He had me make a fist and I turned my face away and a nurse that had magically appeared beside me stuck a big foam “thing” in my mouth. I won’t lie. This irritated me a little because there was no warning, she literally just shoved it in my mouth. I’m lucky that it was on the side that wasn’t really hurting that day. I did feel a little pinch, but that was literally it. The dentist said in about 30 seconds I would start feeling sleepy and that was totally normal. I said, “Ok.”. He said, “How do you feel?” I passed out.
When I woke up, I literally couldn’t believe it was over. I felt like I had just fell asleep for a few minutes. However, I knew they were done because my mouth was full of gauze. The next thing I know they were tying this huge white bow to my head with icepacks in it. I didn’t even care. The dental assistant walked me out the back door where the Mr. had parked and I only almost fell once! I will say it was really nice of them to have a private exit so you don’t have to walk out through the front drooling everywhere.
The Mr. drove me home and then left to go get all of my meds! There was apparently enough pain meds in the IV to last me a few hours and the big kids were watching me so I was fine. This is a picture I took while he was gone. You can see in my eyes I was still pretty loopy.
One mistake I did not make and my advice: They told me I could take one of the pain meds they gave me every 4-6 hours “as needed”. Whether I needed it or not, I took the meds every time I was allowed. I didn’t want to give the pain a chance to rear it’s ugly head. I definitely recommend that!
They prescribed me:
Prednisone tabs: a steroid I had to take a lot of! I had to take 4 the first day, 3 the second day, 2 the third day and 1 the 4th day.
Naprosyn: they pharmacy gave me Naproxin. I had to take one the first day and then one in the AM and one in the PM every day through day 7. This was an anti-inflamatory for pain.
Chlorhexidine Rinse: This is medical mouthwash that helps to prevent infection. I couldn’t use it on day 1. But I got to use it day 2. Although I wasn’t allowed to “swish” it in my mouth. I was only allowed to let it roll in my mouth and then let it drool out of my mouth. No spitting, no swishing.
Hydrocodone: Strictly for pain. This is the one I could have every 4-6 hours as needed and I took one every 6 hours for sure. It kept me comfortable.
Promethazine: This is for anti-nausea, but they only gave me 2 of them. And while all the pain meds did make me nauseous, I didn’t want to waste them incase I really felt sick later on.
Irrigation Syringe: To clean out the teeth area, but the instructions tell me not to use it until after day 7. Some dental websites have their patients using them on day 3. But I have success so far following all of the other rules, so I’m going to wait until day 7.
And last but not least by far…
The ice pack sock: I don’t know what it’s called, but that’s what I call it. It is a long sock that twists in the middle and an ice pack goes in each side. The ice packs are made of water and rubbing alcohol. The alcohol keeps the water from freezing solid, so it stays like a mush. I was told to keep using these and replace them every 30 minutes for the first 48 hours. I did just that except when I slept. As soon as I woke up I would change it.
At the end of day the dentist called me to ask how I was doing. Unfortunately, I was sleeping so I missed the call. I was really impressed that he himself called me and told me to call him back if I was having any discomfort because that is what he was there for.
On day 2 I was feeling ok, but realized I had made…
MISTAKE #4: I scheduled my appointment on a Monday…we are huge fans of #TacoTuesday and I did not get to eat tacos on Tuesday. 😦
My advice: Schedule your appointment for Wednesday!! So you can still have #TacoTuesday AND if you work a traditional 9 to 5 – you can take Wednesday through Friday off and still have the weekend to recoup before having to go back to work AND you should be healed enough to at least have soft tacos for the following #TacoTuesday. 😀
On day 2 I felt ok. I kept up with the pain killers AND I got to use a soft bristle tooth brush to clean the teeth I do still have. DO NOT USE a vibrating brush – trust me. I was sad about the tacos and said because I couldn’t really eat anything “good”. The paperwork suggested soft foods like mashed potatoes, soft pasta, or scrambled eggs and then gradually progress to solid foods as comfort allows.
MISTAKE #5: I had scrambled eggs. Terrible idea. Terrible.
My advice: You can’t really suck eggs down the canal of your mouth without them getting in your teeth. Mashed potatoes – check. Soft pasta – some of it worked out. Short noodles like macaroni, not long ones like the ones in Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. The eggs had to be chewed sort of and here’s the real bad part. As the space where your teeth used to be heal, a “scab” of sorts start to form. It can be almost any color from gray, to pink, to white, to… you guessed it yellow – just like eggs. And you are instructed to NOT pick at this because it is protected your wound. However, I couldn’t tell what was food and what was not and I couldn’t pick at it or wash my mouth out. I was terrified I was going to get egg into a whole I could never get it out of. I did have Campbell’s cream of chicken and that was really pretty good when I thinned it out with 1 can of water. I even took a piece of bread and tore it up into little pieces in my soup and was able to suck it down pretty easy.
All in all day #2 was mostly successful. I had several friends reach out to me to send me well wishes, ask how I was feeling and offer advice on recovery. My mom-in-law even brought me flowers. 🙂
The flowers were beautiful. 🙂
Day 3: Pain was a little sore in the morning so I started with the ice packs and a pain pill. Around midday I went to the kitchen and my daughter looked at me strange and asked what was wrong with my face. She took a pic and showed it to me and I flipped out. Day 3 is supposed to be the start of bruising and such and I thought that is what was happening. Here is what it looked like on both sides:
As it turns out it was irritation from the ice packs. So I did some research. I won’t list this as a mistake, but I will tell you what I found out. The ice pack is really only good to use the first 48 hours. It restricts the blood vessels and less fluid can come out of them, the less your swelling will be later. After the first 48 hours, the ice is only beneficial for pain. I put the ice away and within hours my skin looked much better. Still a little swollen and red, but much better.
Ok…so I did wind up getting dry socket in two sections, but I followed Every. Stinkin. Rule. I have a pretty high tolerance to pain and I was starting to really be kind of miserable. I had an odd pain that I couldn’t quite place and after doing all kinds of research on my own, and coming up with nothing, I finally called the dentist. It was after hours so I left a message and he called me back within 15 minutes. Then he told me to meet him at the office – that was closed! I called up my bff for moral support and we headed to the office.
When I got in, he popped me in the chair, had a quick peek and said it was definitely dry socket – although from what I had read online, I thought it would feel much worse. It was really like a big annoyance more than pain. He took some gauze covered in clove oil and pushed it into two spaces and I felt immediate relief. It was crazy! #cloveoilbeliever
Over the course of the next few weeks, he had me come in 4 more times to remove and repack the gauze. Finally the fourth time, he said he thought I was good to go so no repacking. Each time he saw me there was no charge and it only took him 5 minutes.
Overall, I would say the entire experience was a success. I am now wisdom teeth and pain free. Because we had to take out the extra teeth on the bottom, I will eventually have to have the ones above it removed or posts put in the bottom so that my teeth have a place to meet. The really exciting part is getting my bottom teeth straightened! It makes me so happy to think about a smile with straight teeth! I credit the success 100% to my surgeon, my amazing other half who literally followed a schedule to make sure I took all the right meds at the right time, and myself for following the rules.
Most important advice:
- Don’t wait!!! If you are having problems with your wisdom teeth – go talk to your dentist or an oral surgeon!
- Do. Your. Research! Make sure you research the heck out of surgeons! Ask your friends on social media (and in real life) for referrals. Make sure you look up each referral online and look for reviews! If you have even 1% reservations about a specific surgeon – keep looking!
- Follow the rules after surgery! Take your meds. Don’t use straws. Don’t smoke. And if you break all of those rules, manage to stay pain free and you don’t wind up with dry socket – please do not share your experience with someone looking for advice – because your situation was not typical! You must have some kind of magical fairy dust in your sock drawer or something.
Bottom line. I did it and I’m a giant baby. If I did it, you can too. 🙂