Wisdom teeth extraction

Today is the fifth day post-surgery and I am feeling fine. I will document everything I can remember from the first day I decide to remove them.

I went for a regular dental check-up and asked (again) about the complications of wisdom teeth. As mentioned in my previous post, the dentist told me I could keep them if there are not causing me and problems. On the contrary, my right lower wisdom tooth was causing me problems, from 3 years back. 3 years ago, the same dentist told me that I could wait and see. After waiting and seeing for 3 years, I decided that enough was enough, food getting stuck there was just so irking. He referred me to Dr. Sylvia Tay in Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital.

As someone who never had any major dental stuff done before, besides baby tooth extraction, I was naturally afraid of this. I went to Google Dr. Tay and found out that she has many good reviews from patients whom she had done the surgery on. Then I found out that you could opt for general anaesthesia (GA), so you wouldn’t have to experience the surgery itself. Funnily, what I find interesting about GA wasn’t the escape from the surgery experience, but the feeling of getting knocked out. I always wondered what is it like to faint. In order to go for GA, one should be removing all four wisdom teeth, to justify for the time, money and risks.

Basically for GA, as drugs are used to induce unconsciousness, there will be risks of other complications including death, however rare. You are not allowed to eat 8 hours prior to the administration of GA, to prevent complications (maybe nausea?).

I went for a check-up with Dr. Tay to assess my condition before making a surgery appointment. Dr. Tay was very professional and she said that my surgery would not be a difficult one. I opted for GA when I saw her registering me for LA (local anaesthesia). It was much more expensive, but I did not look at the price difference. As I chose GA, I had to remove all four at once. I made my appointment, 2 August 2016.

Fast forward one month later, I was already regretting my decision. I cannot not eat for 8 hours prior to the surgery! My surgery was scheduled at 11.15am, so I am not supposed to eat after 3am?? That will kill me. I was still thinking of how to ask the hospital when they called me to inform me that my appointment time was push back a little. So, I made use of the opportunity to ask for a new quote for LA. The price of GA amounts to $2,785 and not fully payable by medisave. LA on the other hand, amounts to $830 per side. That was about $1k cheaper! Of course then, I switched to LA, thinking that the surgery wouldn’t take too long anyway. My appointment dates were set at 4 July and 21 July.

Day 1 – Surgery

My surgery was set at 2pm and I arrived at about 1:50pm. Procedures were fine except that I had to wait a couple of times and the nurses repeatedly confirmed my name and identity number.

At around 2:15pm, I was led to the surgery room. In the middle of the room lay the typical dental chair, but with more apparatus and it looked more hi-tech. I was asked to take off my glasses and slippers, and lay down on the chair as the nurse lowered it. A nurse confirm my identity again before Dr. Tay came to me, armed with anaesthetic. Dr. Tay was very professional in the sense that she told me every single action that she would be conducting and what I would be feeling. Above that, she did not attempt to calm me down because I was sure my anxiety was quite obvious. Two nurses were assisting her.

Dr. Tay applied a numbing gel to my inner cheeks and gums and allowed it to settle for a couple of minutes before injecting the anaesthetic. While she was preparing the jab, I was busy thinking whether I should swallow my saliva or not (I did swallow a lot) because the gel was in my mouth. Not expecting multiple injections, I cringed at every point the needle made contact with my gums. Gradually, I felt nothing. She confirmed the anaesthetic worked by doing something to me and asking if I felt anything. I continued to struggle with my saliva, even worse now that I can’t feel my mouth.

Then, a blanket was placed over my body and a similar one with a hole big enough for the mouth was covered over my face. Let the extraction begin.

Dr. Tay said, “Now you will be feeling some tugging and pulling.”

Me: Mmmm

Within 10 seconds, she told me, “The top tooth is out.”

Ahh, great. I knew it would be easy as it was straight.

Then came the nightmare. I wasn’t really bothered about the pain; I couldn’t even feel anything. After about 2 minutes cutting my lower gums (I was sure she was doing that), she told me that I will feel some vibration. That was when the nightmare began. She used a friggin mini chainsaw on my tooth!! A minute in, suddenly I felt a sharp pain, not the kind of pain like the jab, but a kind of pain that goes into your bone. As if needles are inside your bones. I endured for another few seconds before giving up. I made some noises and she was like, “Do you feel pain?”

Me was like, “Urgghh…”

She stopped for a while and I guessed she injected more anaesthetic? Not sure, but I couldn’t feel it again. After what seemed like another 5 minutes, she told me it was out. Dr. Tay applied something to the wound and made me bite a piece of gauze. That was it. I was expecting stitches but no. The apparatuses were stripped off me as fast as they were put on. I sat up, put on my glasses and my teeth were brought in front of me in a transparent ziplock used for tablet medicine. I looked at my watch. 2:35pm.

I was led to a waiting room, bleeding profusely and swallowing my blood. After a few minutes, a nurse brought me to a smaller room to watch a short video on how to care for the wound. She changed my gauze after the video and told me to wait outside where the counter was. My name was called and I was given the prescription, which I had to go down to the pharmacy to pick them up myself. Another appointment for a review was also arranged.

I waited for about 30 minutes at the pharmacy because I don’t know why they were so inefficient. After receiving my medication, I took a pain killer immediately so that I would not have to feel the pain when the anaesthesia wears off. Mother took a cab home with me.

The rest of the day was just me struggling with the bleeding, and swallowing more blood. The anaesthesia affects my outer cheeks and even until the corner of my right eye. I couldn’t feel much until about 8pm at night. As the anaesthetic wears off, I felt what Dr. Tay told me: numbing of lips and chin. Apparently the surgery damages a nerve that allows your lips and chin to feel. I could already feel where the anaesthetic originally affects, but not my right side lip and chin. This lasted till the next morning.

The first thing I ate was a banana, at about 5pm, mashed into bits. It was actually quite good. As I had the gauze still on, I couldn’t chew, so the easiest way was to swallow. I was also craving something sweet then. My dinner was porridge, obviously and I took 1 hour to swallow it all. I delivered the food carefully to the opening of my throat or to the left side so that it would not touch the gauze. Took antibiotics and one corticosteroid (only two) given to me.

When it was bed time, I had to brush my teeth. That was the first time I saw my wound. I brushed my teeth as usual and got extremely careful when I reached my wound. By that time, the bleeding had slowed to like 1 drop per 2 minutes kind of rate? There was still blood when I rinsed my mouth, but it was fine to the point I wouldn’t need the gauze anymore. In total, I used 5 gauze. You can change less frequently as the bleeding slows down. The last change I made was a 1 hour gap. I propped myself up to sleep in case I wake up with a bloody pillow.

 

Day 2

I woke up with no more numbing on my lips. The painkiller was working well, for I did not feel pain at all. Further, my cheek did not even swell, so I consider myself lucky. Brushing teeth in the morning as usual, carefully. I had soft-boiled eggs and Japanese natto for breakfast. Rinsed my mouth after every meal with the mouth wash provided. Took my antibiotics and the second corticosteroid to prevent swelling and inflammation.

Continued with porridge for lunch. Went out for a movie with my friends and even had popcorn (kind of used my saliva to soften them)! I guess it wasn’t that bad after all.

Dinner was back to normal meal.

I stopped taking pain killers after the first one as it wasn’t pain.

All was well…

Day 3

Selamat Hari Raya!

Ate natto and soft-boiled eggs for breakfast again. Today with a cereal bar to test my biting strength.

Continued with my medications, minus the pain killers.

Day 4

I felt well enough to go for my part-time work. Had noodles for lunch.

Dinner with friends was Japanese abura soba.

It happened before dinner. Either the pain killer effect ran out (of course it must have run out after the second day) or it is just the process of healing, but my lower right gum starts to hurt. Not super pain, but a throbbing ache. An ache that can make you feel gloomy. That was how I felt even though I tried to interact with my friends. I endured until I reached home and quickly popped a pain killer. The effect took about 20 minutes and I was well again. I looked at the pain killer packaging and saw… $21 for that pack of 7 tablets. That makes it $3 per tablet! No wonder it was so effective.

Day 5

Today, I was able to eat normally, with some occasional bouts of throbbing ache.

That’s all, will update again.

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