WHEN THE TABLES TURN AND YOU BECOME THE PATIENT, NOT THE PROVIDER
Many of you might know me as your Dental Hygienist, Amy, but I am also a patient at Dental 359 and like many of you, I don’t particularly relish the thought of visiting the dentist outside of my professional capacity; but alas, my teeth had other plans for me.
I would like to share with you my recent experience of having my three remaining wisdom teeth removed. I have known for many years that the day would come that I would have to bite the proverbial bullet and have my extractions done, however, I was silently hoping that my wisdom teeth would remain in their sleepy dormant state and not bother me….and then began the ache. I, like so many lucky others, had a mesio-impacted lower wisdom tooth meaning that instead of erupting into my mouth it was sitting under the gum and pushing against my last molar.
Just like this:
The problem with that is there is a risk that it could cause irreversible damage to said tooth (as it happens that one is my favourite chewing tooth) so I knew I had to save it. I had an OPG x-ray taken to assess my wisdom teeth and took it to Hooman, who confirmed that the teeth had to be removed.
A cold sweat broke out over my body as the anxiety crept into my mind…. I was going to need multiple needles…the taste of blood in my mouth…and the sound of drilling…my least favourite things. As I let the anxiety wash over me I took a moment to pause and appreciate the irony in the fact that we take people’s teeth out every day and I, like any other patient visiting the practice might be, was really nervous. As you all know by now, Hooman had to take a leave of absence so the task of whipping out my “wizzies” fell to our newbie dentist, Dr Justin Soon.
My Biggest Fears And How The Team Helped Me Overcome Them
A few months passed and I tried to not think too much about my extractions but with my impending appointment just around the corner I was starting to worry again…
Our fears, no matter how irrational, are very personal and they differ from person to person. These were the 3 things I was worried about:
- Injections and being numb I have always had an irrational fear of needles…tattoos are fine but try and stick a needle in my mouth and I am likely to karate chop your face. I find feeling numb very disconcerting because I know that something should be painful…but its not…still can’t get my head around that (yes, I have studied pharmacology and anaesthetics but logic has no place here) But Justin was very patient with my anxiety and very gentle when placing the needle, making it a much more comfortable experience than I expected. Mel, his assistant was also very caring putting me at ease as soon as I sat in the chair.
- The taste of blood and having water in my mouth the irony of this is not lost on me don’t worry, but yet the thought of this really bothers me. Luckily, Mel was an expert with the suction and made sure at no point did I feel like I was being water boarded or have any nasty tastes.
- Having to keep my mouth open for so long I have a pretty small mouth so I worry that I won’t be able to stretch far enough for everything to fit in there. To combat this, Justin and Mel gave me a mouth block to rest against so I didn’t have to strain to stay open.
There really wasn’t a single fear that Justin or Mel didn’t manage. I was completely at ease.
The Worst Part of the Experience
I’m not going to lie, having 3 teeth out (one being surgical) all while being awake in the chair isn’t the most pleasant experience in the world but since it had to be done, I put in my headphones, selected my favourite relaxing playlist and I sucked it up.
Again, everyone will have a different opinion about the best and worst part of having your teeth out but for me they were:
- Being numb, I have already mentioned this but I hate the feeling of having a fat face and tingly tongue that lasts for hours afterwards
- The noise of the drill, having bone drilled from your jawbone is less than enjoyable, it doesn’t hurt because of the numbness but it really does make an awful sound
The Best Part of the Experience
The best part of my experience was having the pleasure of being looked after by such a kind and compassionate team. From Kayla at the front desk offering support for days before and after the procedure to Justin and Mel who couldn’t have been more understanding and patient with me. Justin worked quickly and efficiently without compromising his quality of work or my comfort. And best of all, there was NO pain! There was one small scratch form the first needle and after that everything was plain sailing.
My Advice to You
- Don’t make it a bigger deal in your mind than it actually is. Anxiety makes the experience a whole lot worse than it needs to be
- Decide which method suits you best. I chose to have my extractions done under a Local Anaesthetic (awake in the chair) as it is quicker and less complicated but for some people IV sedation or a General Anaesthetic might be a more suitable option
- Take along your headphones and have some of your favourite music ready to listen to during the procedure
- Stock up on lots of soft foods like healthy soups and ice cream as you will be a bit tender for a few days afterwards- nothing a few Panadol can’t stay on top of
- Just remember, as all good Australians say, “She’ll be right mate!”