i had three teeth extracted today.

i know this is more of a life thing than a thought thing so it really belongs on oscillate, but it’s been a while since i’ve written on resonate, and my brain is still in this state of analysis about everything that happened, so i thought i’d mix it up a bit.

so yeah. i got three teeth extracted today. it needs to be documented.

the first thing that i did after the dentist’s assistant (darlene) put me in the chair was to read and sign a form that stated that i understood what was being done to me, that i had had a discussion about the potential side effects and complications and yadeyade. It’s the second time i’ve signed something like that in which one of the potential complications listed on the form was “death”, the first being when i went skydiving in 2004. Other than that, the form was pretty straightforward with those typical “things could go wrong, you could get infections” nonsense that to me has the sort of odds like the nut flush against the straight flush. Sure, it’s *possible*, but the odds just aren’t there, and even if by some stretch something were to happen, it’s not unfixable.

So okay. i signed the paper, the oral surgeon guy then went over what he was going to do, and discussed options for one of the teeth to be extracted, as in two of the teeth were my wisdom teeth on the right side which was fine, but one tooth on my left hand side was my second molar which would leave a gap between my left wisdom tooth and my first molar. He said that if i wanted to i could just leave it alone and then over years the two teeth would likely push closer together which isn’t a big deal, or i could get a replacement fake tooth to go in there instead which would cost a bunch of money, but is an option. He didn’t want to sway me one way or the other, but he did say after i essentially decided that it was unnecessary that he probably would have done the same thing and just left it alone. I also have the option of changing my mind if i want down the road. He mentioned some potential low-risk dangers and some low-to-moderate numb-like side effects that could go on for days or weeks or months, but that that would only happen if he was sloppy. He had an accent that i couldn’t quite place because it was fairly light; it was definitely either european or eastern bloc. He said his last name, but it wasn’t something that i caught because it was somewhat complicated or else i wasn’t listening properly.

They put a thing over my nose that was supposed to introduce nitrous oxide into my system. Darlene told me that it was just supposed to relax me, make me feel like “i had just had a couple of cocktails.” After a while i started to feel a tingle in my legs, but other than that my sense of awareness didn’t seem to dull at all. I said as such, so she let it run some more, and after a few more minutes, she applied some topical novocaine to the areas of my teeth. After a few minutes, the oral surgeon stuck needles into my mouth to put the more Heavy Stuff into my mouth, and then we waited to allow the numbness to go into effect.

While we waited for the heavy novocaine to settle in, Darlene asked me where i was from and all that and i gave a basic answer, and when i said that i marched in the Saints Victory parade, she said that she was there and that brought more of her background into the light, that she had lived here all of her life, her parents got married in the big chapel downtown in the quarter. So i asked the question that’s been on my mind ever since the saints won the super bowl and we did the parade, “so the saints winning the super bowl was a very personal thing fro you, then?” and her face kind of lit up (over her facemask) and said, “absolutely.” and it spurned a small conversation about how the super bowl was such a unifying thing for the city, a topic of a separate entry in my head.

She asked me how i was doing with the numbness and with the nitrous, and i said that i was feeling pretty numb from the novocaine, but i wasn’t sure about the whole nitrous thing. i mean, more of my body was feeling numb, but my brain still felt very alert. She left me for a few minutes after that, which i think was an effort to distract me less so i could breathe the nitrous more completely.

After a while, the oral surgeon came back and said, “i’m going to do some stuff and all you should feel is pressure. if you feel pain, let me know and we’ll give you more anaesthetic.” So he did some stuff, saying out loud, “some pressure, some pressure, a little pressure, a lot of pressure…” and i didn’t feel any pain at all, so he got to work.

and i would have loved to see a video of what he did. not because i was particularly interested in the process, but because i felt like what he was doing would have really really hurt if it weren’t for the numbing stuff. i know it must have been pretty bloody since i’m still bleeding a lot (have to replace gauze in my mouth every half hour or so), but whatever. i’m normally squeamish about blood, but this is different, maybe because it’s mine, or because i knew what it felt like which wasn’t much at all; i don’t know. But it was just interesting to feel tugs of pressure without pain for something that feels like i should have been screaming in agony.

Two of the teeth were difficult to extract apparently; one because it just had a long root, the other because that tooth has been broken for a while and so it was more fussy to get out. He did a bunch of a drilling and then pulling and then drilling and then pulling. When the teeth actually came out, i only felt one of them. The other two i was only aware that they came out because i could tell that what the assistant was doing was dealing with gauzing up the bleeding as opposed to assisting him with the process. With the tooth on my left side, he put in a stitch, which marks the first stitch i’ve ever had in my life.

The whole thing took about an hour to do (starting with the topical novocaine – the actual extraction was maybe ten minutes each?). After it was done, Darlene switched the nitrous to a concentrated oxygen to “clear my head so i can drive”, and honestly, i thikn i got gipped out of the nitrous experience because when i went back and evaluated the way my head felt and my body felt overall, i don’t think i felt any effects of the nitrous other than the initial tingly feeling in my limbs. My head still felt pretty alert but relaxed, but not in a way that was moreso than normal. maybe i was just that unaware of whether or not it had any effect, but if i had known that it would go like that, i might have asked to not have it, especially since it was an additional $95 charge that didn’t get covered by my insurance.

After i was taken off of the oxygen, Darlene gave me a brief overview of what i needed to do post-extraction, which strangely includes not rinsing or drinking through a straw for twenty-four hours. Apparently rinsing and suction of any sort can complicate the whole healing process, so until 14:00 tomorrow i can’t really brush my teeth. I can eat soft foods, but i’m probably going to stick with yogurt and liquids, maybe throw in some sliced meats. i’m not supposed to eat rice or strawberries or anything that could potentially lodge itself into the areas where the teeth used to be.

I have three prescriptions: one for amoxacillan which takes me back to my younger asthmatic years, one for percoset which i can take as needed, and one “oral rinse” deal that i need to start to do tomorrow after i’m actually allowed to rinse. i’m not sure if i’m going to take the percoset since it’s just a pain killer as opposed to anything that prevents infection, and i generally shy away from that sort of stuff. i figure that if i could march an entire week of 8+ hour rehearsals at 160-200 BPM with a pulled groin muscle (Crossmen 1995 finals week), i can deal with some stupid pain in my mouth for a week or two. i have a followup appointment a week from now so they can make sure that i’m all healing properly.

it’s now 16:15 and the bottom half of my mouth is starting to finally get feeling back, which is a good thing. i hate having to talk or eat or do anything with that feeling of numbness. when i was younger and still went to the dentist, i eventually started having my cavities drilled without novocaine because i preferred the short term pain over the long term numbness. my attitude is less strong than it used to be which means that i’ll take the novocaine with a shrug, but the numbness and how long it lasts is still pretty annoying.

there’s one other part of the whole visit that’s worthy of mentioning, but that part will actually go into an oscillate entry instead of here, and also be picture number twelve of my 40 day lent scheme.

Mendel Lee

I'm a composer, musician, and music educator residing in New Orleans, LA.

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