Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Tooth Tales: I am uncrowned

Yesterday I went to the dentist to have a tooth extracted, the same one that was crowned back in 2016. I was scheduled to go in mid-January, but they had a cancellation, so I grabbed the chance to get it sorted earlier. So far, it’s gone well.

The tooth came out in one piece, which I thought was amazing considering it was crowned in the first place because the top broke off. Goes to show how awesome my former dentist in Birkenhead was (he did the crown). However, my new dentist is even awesomer (and that’s totally a word). Everyone I’ve met in that practice are kind, nice people, which matters to me. My dentist explained everything carefully, including what I should expect, checked with me to see how I was doing, and even apologised for the sound made when some of the crown’s enamel scraped off. The whole thing, including injections, the procedure and advice on after care, took maybe 20 minutes. It was painless—even the bill, for a change (well, relatively speaking…). While no one likes going to the dentist, if I was ever going to like it, they’d probably be the ones for me. Not that it’s likely, of course.

It’s been nearly forty years since I last had a tooth removed, and that was an impacted wisdom tooth, which is a very different critter. Back then, I had some paracetamol with codeine for pain, and what I remember is that it didn’t really reduce the pain all that much, but it made me not care about it much. If anything, it was a rather pleasant warmness. Nowadays, paracetamol is the only non-prescription pain reliever I can take due to the chemical soup in my blood created by all the different prescriptions.

My tooth pain began in November, and I talked about my consultation for it in my most recent Tooth Tales post. The appointment I mentioned in that post was going to be two weeks after I rang them, and I was worried that paracetamol might not be able to control the pain, something I was worried about mainly because I was headed to Queenstown for a short holiday and I was afraid the pain might return while I was away (it didn’t). To play it on the safe side, my GP gave me a prescription for codeine tablets, though I haven’t used any (the pain got better after I saw him, and only returned once the tooth was pulled; so far, paracetamol has controlled that).

The after care instructions they gave me said that today I was to “commence using hot salty water mouth baths.” I was to soak the socket “for 1-2 minutes fives times a day for the next five days.” I understood the words, but not what they meant.

When I was a child, my mother sometimes had me gargle with salt water when I had a sore throat. I hated it, and she eventually stopped pushing it. Because of that, though, I assumed it had something to do with fighting bacteria, and it turns out that it does that, however, it also aids with healing wounds in the mouth, both of which are relevant here, of course. The real problem was that I had no idea how to make a “hot salty water mouth bath”.

Google told me it was around one teaspoon of salt in one cup of water. Some instructions said to boil the water and let it cool. I first tried hot tap water, then the boiling method. The tap water method is faster because I can get the temperature just right quickly, while the boiled method means waiting, so it also takes longer. I suppose that if someone was worried about the quality of their hot tap water, they might want to used boiled water method.

I’ve found out that I still hate rinsing my mouth with salt water (I like salty food, but not that salty). However, I stumbled across another benefit: Last night I couldn’t brush my teeth because I wasn’t allowed to rinse my mouth (they didn’t want to risk opening the wound). I’m also not allowed to use commercial mouthwash for 2-3 days after the procedure. This was an issue because even though I couldn’t smell my own morning breath today, I could practically see it. The salt water rinse killed the bacteria that causes bad breath, to I felt much fresher afterward (I can brush my teeth tonight, though I’ll avoid the part where the tooth was).

I was actually more concerned with the amount of time it will all take. It may not sound like much but it adds up (to a little less than an hour, for the record). I have trouble remembering to do basic things, so I was worried about remembering to make the mouth rinse and use it five times a day from now until Sunday—though, knowing me, I’m sure I will because I’m a good patient, I am.

Today, the area of my gum is sore, though not especially painful, which I’m pretty sure means it’s healing and settling down. By the time Christmas rolls around, it will have been ten days, and I’ll be able to eat and drink normally (though I know I’ll avoid chewing on that side of my mouth, just as I did for a time right after the tooth was crowned).

I suppose the bigger point here is that there was a problem that needed to be addressed, and I did. I’ve mostly taken care of dental things myself, though Nigel instigated some things, pushed me forward on others, and helped support me on yet other things. I was aware of all that yesterday, of course.

I also couldn’t help but be aware of him because of a smaller, but related thing: Paracetamol. I used up that last of the stuff that the hospital prescribed when they sent Nigel home on September 14 of last year for what turned out to be only a few days. We paid for the prescription, plus it’s an ordinary drug, so I kept it and have used it over the past 15 months. The fact it’s almost gone (I have one more dose) means that yet another part of that time in my life is ending. It’s a minor thing, absolutely, and an unimportant one, but it’s yet another example of how reminders can crop up unexpectedly in even the smallest of things, like a box of paracetamol.

Still, I got this problem taken care of, and with time for it to settle down before Christmas. It all went well, and I had my favourable impression of my new dentist was firmly reinforced. All up, I count this as a major win.


Roger Owen Green said...

Awesomer is definitely a word, I agree.
I never liked gargling with salt water, to this day.

Arthur Schenck said...

Rinsing with salt water is disgusting—among the worst things ever. I made it through four goes today, and that's all I'm doing. One more tonight and I'll give up entirely, so I better give it a rest for today and try again tomorrow.