Surprise! Oral Surgery

dentiststreetdrillerI’m sitting here with a swollen face and a throbbing tooth because I had surprise oral surgery on Tuesday. I spent yesterday in a Vicodin haze, which was juuuust fine.

Today, I’m semi-miserable. I gotta get work accomplished, so I’m on Ibuprofin. Ibuprofin sucks compared to Vicodin, so I’m cranky. I need to write my Friday The Debutante Ball post today, which means I need to get serious about the topic “writing seasons” — our topic of the week — only my mouth is throbbing so hard that I can barely think. And if I succumb to lovely Vicodin, I won’t care.

You’re probably wondering how on Earth oral surgery can be a surprise … I’d had a root canal on molar 13 years ago. Lately, it has been tender, and I stopped eating on my left side altogether. My dentist couldn’t figure it out, so I made an appointment with Dr. S, an endodontist. I remembered him from a previous root canal (molar number 14). Soooo handsome.

I made sure to dress nicely for my appointment. Cute skirt with stylish fall tights and ankle boots. I looked OK even if I was pale and makeup-less. I’m phobic about needles, which I’m almost used to by now. I knew I would be clutching the assistant’s hand while the needle slid into my gum for what I thought would be a root canal repair job.

Which was bad enough.

Now you might be asking yourself why my tooth was bothering me if it didn’t have nerves in it … Well, apparently, microscopic nerve endings branch off the root tips too. Waaaay up there, in your jaw.


And if they get chronically inflamed, waaaay up there, in your jaw, well … The only permanent fix is to DRILL INTO YOUR JAWBONE and cut those root tips off.


So, yeah. Surprise! Oral surgery. Thank goodness Dr. S is handsome and funny (he actually got me laughing a few times) and, best of all, excellent at what he does. Oh yeah, and handsome. Every once in awhile I peeked up at him while he cut and drilled and scraped and snipped and plugged, and, finally, sewed me up. A nice view, all said.

But still, it wasn’t fun. After the needles, it’s the sounds that got to me. I pictured my flayed gum and the jaw bone showing up all nice and glisten-y. And then the drill hole to get at the roots. He drilled for a long time too. Apparently my roots were deeper inside my jaw bone than Dr. S expected. I could just picture it all. This imagination I use for fiction is my own worst enemy at times.

The worst part was the pressure of the scalpel. It seemed to go on forever. And then the gooey warmth of my blood seeping over to the unanesthetized side of my mouth before the nice assistant started her water flowing and the suction thingy sucked it up.

I will always remember the sensation of my own blood. It was gross and fascinating and intimate all at the same time. Maybe it’ll go into a novel someday.

And Dr. S? Alas, he has a fiancee. But I get to see him in three weeks for a follow-up. Not a bad consolation prize.

9 thoughts on “Surprise! Oral Surgery

  1. Isn’t life fun? I had a surprise root canal about a year ago. My dentist isn’t handsome but he’s efficient, which I so appreciate after the casual, wander-off-to-play-a-round-of-golf family dentist of yore.

  2. Wow! Your descriptive powers combined with my overactive imagination just made for a very uncomfortable read. All too real, and might I say that I fear all things dentist too. Had an all thumbs dentist put braces on me at the tender age of ten, and have never recovered. My teeth are straight though. Good Luck.

  3. Nice description. I will never forget the sound of the scalpel slicing open the skin on my shoulder, so close to my ear. I commented on it, and the surgeon said that it was a sound like no other. I hope you heal quickly and that this is the end of it.

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