Wisdom Tooth Extraction: The Experience

My bottom left wisdom had been problematic the past couple of years because it did not fully erupt and got infected a couple of times. Usually the pain was bearable and would fade of after a couple of days. But yesterday the pain was slightly more than what it was usually: I could feel the throbbing of dull pain with each heartbeat and the gum surrounding that wisdom tooth was sore and swollen.

Previously I had put off getting the tooth extracted as the reading up on other people’s experiences’ with things that went wrong, or just the thought of being awake during the procedure and being able to feel and be aware of what was going on, minus the pain, did not sit too well with me as I have never extracted any teeth at all. Moreover, having read even more horror stories, especially of one at the National Dental Center pulling out two wrong teeth of a patient by mistake after the wrong referral slip was attached to the wrong patient call-number chit did not help ease my nerves.
So it was a quick call to make an appointment at the nearest private dentist for a consultation at AllSmiles Dental Care @ Tampines, which I had only been too about 3-4 times for teeth cleaning. AllSmiles Dental Care @ Tampines is a small little place which can only sit about 3 people in the (really small) waiting area and the dentists seem to be on rotation with their other branch at Jurong. The dentists there that I have met so far are pretty nice, the only thing to note is that the receptionist taking calls or the assistant can be a little surly but generally harmless and nice overall.

After a quick checkup the dentist, Dr Patricia Ong, suggested extracting the wisdom tooth on that very day itself since it was giving problems. When asked earlier if the extraction could be done that day, the receptionist informed me that an extraction was not possible. Regardless of the disparity, I guess the throbbing (and irritating) pain was the major motivation for wanting to extract it.

So it was off to get an X-ray of both the upper and lower wisdom teeth. Dr Ong had suggested extracting out both as the top wisdom tooth if left in place might irritate the empty gum slot after the bottom one was removed. Once the X-ray was done, Dr Ong showed them to me and explained how the teeth would be removed and what side-effects that might be, both temporary and permanent (e.g. the nerves and numbness etc…). It was a straightforward procedure, as long as no complications occurred.

Before the procedure started, I signed on disclaimer and was given some anti-biotics, anti-swelling and really strong painkiller before the procedure. Than was given an eye-mask for blocking out the strong light (and the scary scene I presume). Dr Ong then proceeded to inject the anesthetic into the lower and upper gums multiple times. The feeling was tingly and yes pain (if you can imagine ant biting you on your gums). The gums around the wisdom tooth soon felt numb and a little “fat” (swollen). The bottom tooth required some surgery, while the top one could just be extracted as it is.

Dr Ong was patient and re-assuring for someone who has never extracted any teeth before, which helped ease some nerves… some of it anyways... After the anesthetic started kicking in, she started on the bottom tooth: there were sounds of drilling, cracking sounds, prodding, jabbing, pulling and pushing. Apparently she had to cut the bottom wisdom into half before she could extract it as one of the roots was curved. Hearing and feeling what was going minus the pain was a weird feeling. I was instructed to raise my right hand to inform it was pain or she was pressing to hard. I did this at intervals when I felt some pain and thought that there was some pain (which turned out to be more of the sensation her pulling and prodding my tooth).

When the bottom wisdom tooth finally came out, I did not even know it was out. Soon after stitching the bottom wound, it was onto the top wisdom, which unfortunately did not come with the eye shades as the light was placed further away. This time I could see what was going on, I saw some of the tools being used and blood (naturally), but I preferred to keep my eyes closed whenever possible. It took a longer time then expected as the upper wisdom tooth had 3 roots instead of the usual two, but it came out in one piece.

So finally after about 1 and a half hours, the wisdom teeth were out! Throughout the session, Dr On was patient and understanding. She tried to be as gentle as she could, but as the teeth were located way back my lip got cut a tiny bit.

I was given painkillers, anit-biotics, anti-swelling pills, a mouth wash and some gauze, along with a 5 day MC (Medical Certificate). There was the option of bringing back my extracted teeth, but what would be the point? So I left it at the dentist’s and really don’t want to be reminded how bloody it was. About 2 hours later I ate some porridge. Looks like it will be soft food and soups for this week. It has now been about 6 hours after the procedure and there is still blood, hopefully it heals up real fast and well. The effects of the anesthetic have started to wear off slowly but the painkillers work wonderfully, I feel nothing. I’d have to go back in a week’s time to get the stitches removed.

The total bill is not cheap, guess that's the price of private dentists and the convenience they provide. Good thing it can be covered by MediSave, only a S$20 administrative fee is charged upfront while the remaining sum would be taken from Medisave. If you are wondering what Medisave is, it is Singapore's national medical savings scheme, where Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents are required by law to put aside part of their income (currently 6.5-9%, depending on age group) into their Medisave Accounts to meet future hospitalization expenses (usually done by the employers).

Of course if you were to go to the nearest Polyclinic, waited an hour for an appointment with a doctor who would issued you with a referral to the National Dental Centre it would be cheaper, albeit a slower process. So it would depend on you which route you prefer to take, how much you are willing to spend, how much you trust the dentist and how convenient it is for you. But really, as long as it is not giving you any problems you should be better off not extracting them.
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