My face aches! Wisdom teeth removed today.

Years of dental procrastination finally caught up with me this week.

Last Friday, i started to get a bit of an ache in the back right of my mouth, and it grew worse over the next couple of days. My teeth ached, my gums were increasingly sore, and began working my jaw to relieve the discomfort, causing my jawbone to click where it meets the skull.

Something similar had happened a couple of times over the past decade, but each time the pain had peaked in a couple of days, and then subsided. By Monday, however, it was as bad as ever. Luckily, aspirin actually did a pretty incredible job of relieving the pain. I almost never take painkillers of any sort, but dropping two aspirin every 6-8 hours kept me sane over the weekend.

I had to work on Monday, but when i woke up this morning i decided that something had to be done. We’ve been in southern California for just over three years now, and i still didn’t have a dentist. Hell, i hadn’t been to the dentist since before leaving Australia, over ten years ago, partly due to my usual tendency to ignore my teeth, and partly because i never had any money or decent insurance as a grad student.

But now, armed with my toothache and my dental insurance, i hopped onto Yelp and found a five-star rated dentist in my neighborhood. I called, and they managed to fit me in for an emergency consultation at 2.00 this afternoon. It didn’t take them long to work out that i had pericoronitis, essentially an infection of the area around the back molars, most probably caused in my case by food getting caught in a hard-to-reach area and infecting the tissue. This condition is
apparently not unusual in people with partially-erupted wisdom teeth.

After diagnosing the problem, the dentist told me my options. It would be possible to irrigate the area, give me some antibiotics, and probably fix the pain and swelling, but the fact was that the arrangement of my wisdom teeth made this likely to occur again. My previous brushes with pain in the area, which i mentioned above, were probably lucky cases where the infection was mild and fixed itself. Anyway, they said it would be best to get the lower wisdom teeth out.

The people in the dentist’s office were amazing. Despite the fact that i was a last-minute emergency on a busy day, they were patient and informative, and called an oral surgeon who could fit me in immediately. They even refused to charge me for the visit, and said that once i fixed my emergency i should come back for routine checkups to keep my teeth healthy (which i will definitely do).

So i hopped in the car to the oral surgeon’s office, and after a set of full-mouth x-rays, they agreed with the dentist’s suggestion that i get the bottom wisdom teeth removed. I now had to decide whether to do it under local, or go the whole hog with full anesthesia. The only problem was that knocking me out required that i not eat or drink for 6 hours before the operation, and that someone be there to drive me home. All that would have required putting it off until Friday, so i jumped in and decided on the local.

The whole thing only took about 20-25 minutes, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. There was very little actual pain. The only thing that hurt was the initial injections of local anesthetic. The needle felt like it went in a mile, and stayed in forever. And there were about 6 or 8 or them, although by the last one the area was already getting pretty numb.

After that, the main discomfort just involved keeping my mouth open for 25 minutes, and also bracing my jaw, my head, and indeed my whole body against the pushing and drilling and prying required to get the teeth out. One of them was impacted at an angle, and it seemed to me like removing it was essentially a process of chipping away at it and removing the pieces, sort of like bringing down a concrete wall with a small hammer. There was water and blood and bits of enamel flying out of my mouth, and i could also see the bloody mess being sucked up the tube by the suction equipment.

At one stage, on the second tooth, the guy almost looked like he was wielding a shovel, as he stood over me with shoulders hunched, trying to dig my recalcitrant tooth out of its hiding place.

On the way home, i filled a prescription for Ibuprofen and Percoset, and for the next few hours i changed out gauze pads every half-hour or so, soaking up a whole bunch of blood in the process. The bleeding on both sides finally slowed to almost nothing about 5 hours after i got home, just about the same time as the local anesthetic wore off. I could now speak without sounding like i had a pair of socks in my mouth.

The pain on both sides now is just a sort of dull ache. I took an Ibuprofen about 6 hours ago (just after i got home), and i’ll take another before i go to bed, but i’m already in considerably less discomfort than i was last night, with the infection. Unless it gets much worse, i can’t imagine that i’ll use the Percocet. I have to teach tomorrow afternoon, but unless there’s some major setback i should be able to cope with a one-hour class without too much trouble. And i’ve been keeping ice on my face, per instructions, to help keep swelling down; we’ll see tomorrow and the next day how successful that was.

All in all, the experience could have been far worse (knock wood!), and having a decent dental plan means that my out-of-pocket expenses for the whole shebang were under $250, which is less than i expected. Wallet pain has always been, for me at least, the most compelling reason to stay away from the dentist.

Anyway, just thought i’d share. Feel free to ask questions, or to share your own stories of dental adventure or misadventure.

You probably got a handout which said to avoid smoking and sucking to avoid getting dry socket. BELIEVE this handout. You don’t want a dry socket. Follow the other instructions, too.

If you can avoid the dry socket, though, you’ll probably feel a lot better in just a day or so. Don’t try to eat anything challenging. I lived on canned diet shakes for a while. When you heal up, you’ll look back and be even more determined to keep current on your dental care, because that infection was probably there even before you noticed it.

And the best way to thank the dentist and oral surgeon is to give glowing recommendations. This is also a great way to help your friends, too.

Yes - when I moved back to Atlanta in 2010, I found a really good dentist. I ended up referring coworkers to him - new to the area ones and some who’d been here for a while but didn’t have a dentist. Every one of them has talked about how great he is. When I told the dentist I’d referred people to him, he got this very kid-like grin on his face about it. I also put a review on Yelp (which is how I found him in the first place :slight_smile: )

Anyway, what Lynn said about dry socket. That’s very much a DO NOT WANT thing. And I’m glad you found a good dentist near you!

Ugh. When I had my lower wisdom teeth removed a couple of years ago, apparently the surgeon somehow managed to shatter a largish chip out of my jawbone. I hurt for months! And every once in a while a piece of bone would erupt from my gums, to be spit out while brushing my teeth. Not a lot of fun.

Congratulations! Every time someone talks about the ‘good old days’ I think about modern medicine and I am very thankful to be here & now.

May I suggest eating a lot of yogurt, the good stuff with extra bacteria? During my major dental work 20 years ago I went nuts on yogurt and experienced rapid healing. My surgeon was amazed and we agreed the yogurt promoted the body’s defenses which helped healing.

Anyway, can’t hurt and you get to eat yummy yogurt.

Aah wisdom teeth. You are a brave person mhendo, really.

Mine were growing downwards, so they needed to open up all of my jaw :eek: The first time it hurt so much (after, not during. Like you said, that’s just pressure) I procrastinated for years and then finally had to bring in my mummy to hold my hand when they did the other side. I kid not, this is a brave woman who has given birth to many babies and been present at many other births, she even pulled a huge rusty nail out of my leg when I was three, but she had to walk out.

Stupid wisdom teeth. We should call them stupid teeth.

Wisdom extraction with a local? You’re a braver man than I am, Gunga! When they went after mine I insisted on total knock-out.

But needs must when the Devil drives, I guess.

Sounds like you came out of it in pretty good shape. When you have a follow up visit insist on getting a set of xrays to check for healing and make sure there’s no fragment of tooth root left in. The aching should not last too long. Hope all continues to go well as you heal.

Ice your face all day today, even if you feel good. You’ll be glad tomorrow.

Thanks for the response and good wishes.

I’m definitely following all the post-op instructions closely. I kept ice on my face for the rest of the day yesterday, also for a while this morning. I’m at work now, so it’s not really possible to continue with the ice at the moment, but i’ll put it back on when i get home.

For dinner last night my wife made me an avocado omelet with home fries - plenty of protein and carbs, and all nice and soft for easy mastication. Today, i’ve been mainly eating yogurt with banana, and protein shakes. I’m mainly trying to stay away from foods that might get caught in the holes left by my extracted teeth.

I don’t smoke, and i don’t generally suck either (:)), so i’ve managed to avoid those activities, and so far (touch wood) everything seems to be fine. My instructions said that today i should start rinsing my mouth out with warm salt water 5-6 times a day, especially after eating, so i’ve been doing that.

If i don’t put direct pressure on the area around the surgery, i really have no pain at all. A very, very slight ache. My last pain med was an Ibuprofen at 6 a.m. this morning, and i don’t feel the need to take another. The ache was worse last night, and was making it hard to fall asleep, so i succumbed and took a Percocet. Wow! Knocked me right out. I don’t think i’ll need to take any more of them, but i was amazed at how quickly it worked. Probably helps that i’ve been very lucky with my health over the course of my life, and so never take any medications with any regularity.

My wife and i are both historians, and sometimes wish we could go back and study our time periods firsthand, but when i got home yesterday, i said to her: “This is one of those times when i’m really happy to be living in the 21st century.” I simply can’t imagine how excruciating this would have been for someone in my position 150 years ago, not to mention possibly life-threatening.

So I’ve posted this story before, but I had my wisdom teeth (all four, impacted) removed last July and I got a post-op infection. Waaaay after the fact. Like, 2.5 months after the fact. It was on the bottom right, in the gum. So don’t assume when you get out of the risk period for dry socket, that you’re free and clear. Keep an eye on it for awhile. Large swelling and oozing pus is NOT normal (you’d think I’d have figured this out quickly, but you’d be wrong). Since I didn’t have any real pain or a fever and was eating just fine, plus I thought you couldn’t get an infection that far afterwards, I let it go for awhile and the doctor was not happy. It took 2 rounds of antibiotics to get rid of the thing.

Aside from that, I thought the actual procedure itself was no big deal, so I’m glad you’re having a pretty easy time of it. I avoided the Percocet and managed with a lot of ibuprofen and Tylenol. It made my TMJ flare up something awful, but I expected that and it subsided after about 10 days. I thought the whole thing was going to be way worse.

I had mine out (at 30) two weeks ago. All four were erupted and twisting around the molars. I opted to be knocked out for the surgery, and I don’t even remember them administering the drugs. Once second, I was looking at the BP monitor, the next my wife was standing in front of me helping me out to the car.

Unfortunately, I can’t feel the front-right quadrant of my tongue any more. It’s numb, and has been since the surgery. :frowning:

That sucks.

When my surgeon was going over the risks with me before the operation, he said that one possible complications from this sort of surgery is damage to the nerves, which can leave parts of your face and/or mouth numb for an extended period. In rare cases, he said, that numbness can even be permanent.

He didn’t think that this was going to be a problem for me, because the x-ray showed that my nerve was located a fairly comfortable distance from the teeth, so he had plenty of room to work. He said that in some people, though, the nerve runs closer to the teeth, and is more likely to suffer some damage in the procedure.

I had my two lower wisdom teeth out on Tuesday fist bump. Same deal, partially erupted, infection risk behind the teeth, where I couldn’t brush, and got them out with a local only. The right side popped out as easily as a champagne cork, the left side involved a lot of drilling and cracking it into pieces to remove. I didn’t get a chance to see the tools he used, because I always keep my eyes shut during dental work, it’s a lot less distressing that way.

Instead of percocet or vicodin, I got etodolac, which I guess is an NSAID like ibuprofen. Worked like a charm, and didn’t make me vomit uncontrollably like narcotics seem to.

I’m off the painkillers now, and have really no pain, just tightness in my jaw and a bit of swelling on the left side.

I got mine out a buncha years ago, at 19. I was lucky, I think, in that I didn’t need to go to any specialist to get them yanked; my own usual dentist could do it. My bro and sis both had to go to the oral surgeon and get knocked out and everything, but I didn’t, and I think I had it easier.

God, I remember being terrified by the spectre of dry sockets, though. Horrifying.

I think I was prescribed Tylenol 3s or some such. I took them when needed, but didn’t end up finishing the prescription. Hopefully your healing will be similarly quick and uneventful.

I got all 4 out at once when I was in college, and what I mostly remember are:

  • I apparently “woke up” several times while the anesthesia was wearing off. I’d open my eyes and the Other Shoe was sitting right there and I was SO HAPPY to see him. I didn’t understand why he was laughing. Apparently I woke up, told him I was SO HAPPY to see him, and then drifted back out … close to a dozen times.

  • The hunger. Dear God, the hunger. I’m a high-protein kind of gal, always have been (I like to joke that I’ve been on Atkins since I could chew solid food, long before anyone had heard of the guy) and yogurt + mashed potatoes were just not enough food. I dreamed of steak.

Glad it’s over and done with for you. Teeth are important.

I had a molar extracted in March, and I was drinking yogurt smoothies (the ones in the tiny yellow bottle) to get my intestinal flora back after a course of antibiotics - my socket seemed to heal up very quickly, too.

I got a dry socket with one of my wisdom teeth extractions - imagine your jawbone being exposed to the world through your tooth socket - that’s what it felt like. On the other hand, I was really surprised with how little pain I had with this recent extraction - it was never more than about a three or four on the pain scale, and that was just for about the first day.

Had mine out 31 years ago as a 17 year old lad.
Oral surgeon and all that. His (the Doc) biggest concern was DRUGS. How many did I do and how recently. There had been a rash of teenagers dying from street drugs +anesthesia.
No dope Doc. Are you sure? yes. I don’t care but I need to know.none, I promise.
Only time under general and it was not fun to come out of.

I had a wisdom tooth out ears ago and now in my dotage the dentist has said the others need to be removed- when they start causing trouble. In other words soon.

I’ll get sedation dentistry.

I have a diary of a relative who fought at Gallipoli and was invalided to Egypt. There, the army dentist removed a tooth of his. This was 1915 and no drugs and I guess the army dentists weren’t recruited on ability. Even reading the story now makes me cringe.

Threads like these make me glad I did not need to get my wisdom teeth removed. No, really, all four are completely erupted, lined up neatly with the other teeth, and yes, I can get the toothbrush behind them. Yes, yes, proof I have a big mouth.

I used to get angry at the dentist I had in my 20’s who tried to terrify me into getting them removed, all sorts of horror stories, with a constant downplay of possible complications. Look, I have no problem with removing something that is definitely causing a problem, but mine never have. (Neither have my dad’s - he still has all of his, and he’s in his 80’s) It’s still surgery, and should only be done when necessary.

My sympathies to everyone getting this done and speedy, uncomplicated recoveries to all!