John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

Dental issues

Hmm, this is annoying - looks like I need to have one of my wisdom teeth yanked out.

Out of my four wisdom teeth, only one of them actually came through properly (top/right). However, I had to have that one removed back in 1997, because it was pounding on the gum below it, where the bottom/right tooth hadn't appeared - according to the X-rays, it was trapped beneath some bone, so it would never appear. This caused trouble, to the extent that I could only open my mouth about 1cm, so I had to live off bananas and milk for a couple of days until I could get the swelling to go down enough for the dentist to have room to work. It was a bit frustrating that I had to get rid of the "good tooth", but so be it. However, since then the tooth underneath has started to emerge; it's not quite level with the one in front of it (yet), but it has apparently cleared the blockage. This has made me wonder whether I would have been better off avoiding that operation, if I would have wound up with two good teeth on that side.

That concern is relevant, because it's led me to avoid doing anything about the wisdom teeth on the left side; the dentist did warn me that they'd probably need to be pulled out later, but I've been hoping that they'd sort themselves out if I left them alone. The one at the bottom is basically pointing forwards, so the back of it is at about the right height, whereas the front of it is leaning against the tooth in front. The gum sometimes gets a bit sore above it (as it gets pushed out of the way), but I can live with that.

The tricky one is the top/left tooth, since it's almost corkscrewed. Roughly speaking, it's been rotated 45 degrees anticlockwise as seen from above, and has also been rotated 45 degrees clockwise as seen from the back. That means that there's one corner pointing to the left (against my cheek), another corner pointing down (lower than the rest of the top row of teeth), and there's a bulge in the gum above it (presumably where the roots are pointing towards the roof of my mouth on the inside). This does hurt a bit every so often, but I've got the hang of closing my mouth to avoid jarring things, so it's not too bad. However, the pain has been coming and going a lot more frequently over the last couple of weeks, to the extent that it's getting hard to sleep at night.

Since I've been living in Croydon for a couple of years, and haven't got round to signing up with a dentist yet, I finally decided that it was about time to sort that out. I found a suitable place (nearby, and recommended by rjw1), and phoned there this morning, but they didn't answer; I then tried leaving a message via their website, but they haven't got back to me. Realistically, I think that means that I'll have to wait until at least Tuesday before I can get this seen to. That may be a good thing, since I'm on duty at Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday/Monday, and the surgery may leave me a bit tired afterwards; I've also booked Tuesday off work anyway, so that I can have a lie-in.

In the meantime, I think I'll have to break my normal rule about painkillers. I don't mind anaesthetic during operations (although I seem to need a higher dose than the average person), but my general attitude is that pain is my friend; I don't like it, but it's sending me a useful message ("Don't do that!"), which I should be aware of. For instance, I was given a bottle of pills after the laser eye surgery, but I never took any of them, and just "toughed it out" instead. In this case, though, I'm not doing anything that I can stop, and the pain is annoying, so I'll head along to Boots in the morning. I've done a bit of Googling, and apparently Ibuprofen is the best painkiller for toothache; this is the active ingredient in Nurofen (Boots branded product, about twice the price of generic painkillers). For tonight, I'll see if a bit of alcohol will help to numb that area.

As a trivia note, I still have one of my baby teeth (at the front of my mouth), since there was no second tooth behind to push it out of the way; this tends to surprise dentists when they see it, especially since it's still in good condition.

My vague hope for the future is that some bright scientist will figure out how sharks keep growing new sets of teeth and trigger the same ability in humans...
Tags: pain, teeth

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