It Didn't Hurt A Bit – Afterwards
On the Sunday I noticed that I was having a little discomfort in my left back teeth when chewing. I kind of cursed my dentist; a couple of weeks before I'd had a checkup and needed a filling in a left lower tooth, which hadn't been hurting at all. "I wish she'd left well alone", I thought. "Never mind, it'll clear up". It didn't. By Tuesday I was at the "banging my head on the wall" stage. By Wednesday I was ready to shoot myself. Ibuprofen didn't help, even Tramadol only helped by zonking me into a complete stupor. The pain was so bad I couldn't even tell where it was - just somewhere on the left (apparently this is common - the pain spreads all through one side of the mouth but rarely crosses to the other side). So I rang for an emergency appointment. My dentist said she could fit me in for a 10 minute slot on Wednesday evening. I turned up at 10 minutes to 5 and was straight into the chair. She gently prodded a few teeth with a pick, and (after diagnosing the claw marks I'd left in the ceiling when I rose vertically from the chair, screaming) told me my left upper wisdom tooth was infected. In the case of a "non-wisdom" tooth that would have meant root canal work, but, she told me, wisdom teeth aren't generally worth saving, especially since they're so far back in the mouth the work is extremely hard to do. I looked at her, she looked at me, I said "better hoick it out, then?" "Yes" came the reply.
At that point I expected to be told to take a bucket of painkillers and come back in a few days, or even to take a bucket of erythromycin (I'm allergic to penicillin) and come back in a few days. Not a bit of it. Off she went and came back with a very big pair of pliers (I'm told they're really called "forceps" but they looked like pliers to me!). Then she put the needle in. Absolute bliss. No pain at all (she's really very good at injections, my dentist) and. The pain. Stopped. I did ask if she'd just come round to my house every few hours and anaesthetise me, rather than extracting the tooth, but apparently the UK National Health Service, good as it is, doesn't stretch to this .
Ten minutes later I'm lying back with a large pair of pliers forceps in my mouth. I could feel my head being tugged about as she worked the tooth loose, but no pain at all (I remember thinking how horrendous it must have been in the past, before dental anaesthesia was invented). She stopped a couple of times "to give me a breather" (I think really it was my dentist who needed the breather - she's not exactly a huge lady and that tooth was well stuck in) but after about 10 minutes of heaving and twisting there was the tooth. She showed me it and it was kind of nasty - black and unpleasant. I really didn't intend to take it home with me!
I was given a sheet telling me about aftercare - rinse gently with cold water for 24 hours, then with salted hot water "until the swelling and discomfort subsides". This was a little confusing as I had not a shred of discomfort (let alone pain) at any point after the anaesthetic wore off so I wasn't sure when to stop the salt water rinses. I did them for three days then stopped.
That's a month ago, and I've had no pain at all since then. Needless to say, I no longer curse my dentist!