Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Stitch In Time (or Tooth)

Yes, as it turns out, I needed stitches. Either three of them or five of them--I'm not sure which as I got two different answers when I asked. Or maybe they didn't understand the question coming from my completely motionless mouth. When the stitching was finished, I was given a few instructions and turned loose. I staggered back out to my car and sat quietly for a few minutes, trying to rally the strength to drive home. The rest of the day passed in a blur of annoying numbness and agonizing pain. The dentist called that evening and left a message on my voicemail, just checking up on me. He said it was a rather rough extraction (ya think?) and that I had four roots, all curling, which was why it took so long.
The next morning I was swollen and aching on that side. The following day the swelling was worse, and so was the pain. But I was also having pain in the area of my partial, which was one molar away from the extracted wisdom tooth. I finally pulled the partial out and looked in the mirror. There were two stitches in the gum under the partial. That area was separated from the wisdom tooth by a whole other molar! Why did I need stitches there?
I took a closer look inside my mouth Saturday and discovered something even more disturbing. One of the stitches had actually caught the swollen tissue of the inside of my cheek. My cheek was actually sewn to my gums! Could this be why I couldn't open my mouth very wide?
By Saturday night I gave up treating the pain with ibuprofen and went for the prescription pain medication. I wanted to be pain-free for the first time in over three weeks, and I was willing to do whatever I had to in order to achieve that goal. I did sleep Saturday night, but when I got up Sunday morning I discovered one of the side-effects of the pain medication: dizziness. I couldn't stand up straight or walk in a straight line, and I was so nauseated I swore never to take another one of those pills again. I stayed in bed and nursed my swollen jaw Sunday, but by Monday I was convinced that the pain and swelling were more than the natural healing process. I began to think there was infection. Dry socket. Complications. But the dentist's office was closed on Mondays. I couldn't get my stitches out before Tuesday anyway, so I decided to tough it out. I did, although I was in tears by Monday night.
Tuesday morning I headed back to the dentist's office first thing. I knew I needed some answers for all these random stitches, but again my main goal was one thing: GET RID OF THE PAIN!
The dentist had a different assistant that day. She asked how I was feeling and I miserably explained my problems. I also asked why my cheek was sewn to my gum. She looked in my mouth and assured me that wasn't the case. Of course, she was looking at the stitches near my partial. She dug around a little more and said, "Oh, there it--" she caught herself and then said, "Well you just have stitches all over, don't you?" She then proceeded to remove the stitches. She apologized in advance for the pain, and offered to let the dentist numb it again. I didn't want anymore novocain, so she used a topical and then proceeded to put me through agony as she pulled out the stitches. If I had known any military secrets, I would have spilled them then.
She never did admit to seeing my cheek sewn to my gum, and since she removed the stitches, the dentist never got to see what he'd done. By the time he came into the room, I was in such agony I didn't have the strength to do more than beg him to do something for the pain. He said the extraction point did not look infected and seemed to be healing nicely, but no one could deny the pain I was obviously in. So he treated it as dry socket, packing it with gauze dipped in oil of cloves. Everything tasted like cloves for two days, and I went back and he packed it again. A week and a half after the initial visit, I was finally getting some relief. I still have occasional pain, but for the most part I'm pain-free for the first time in over a month. I never did bring up the misplaced stitches. They would never have admitted it because that would open them up to a lawsuit, not that I would sue. And I didn't want to use that to barter for future free treatments. I feel it's best we go our separate ways.
The other three wisdom teeth still need to come out. And they will--when having them in brings more pain than taking them out does. I can see that happening in another twenty years or so.


  1. You are not going back to that doctor?? Really?? Wonder why??? My goodness!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. wow.... next time see an oral surgeon, it is ssssssoooooo much better that way!!!! did you ever check where this guy got his education or license or whatever??? not that you should sue him, but he seriously shouldnt be practicing dentistry.bless your heart!

  3. I don't remember where he got his education, but he did tell me he'd been practicing dentistry since 1966. Maybe no one has introduced him to the miracles of modern medicine. LOL

  4. Jill, in all honesty, I would say go to an oral surgeon as soon as you can before you end up with more problems. Generally, dental professionals don't like to work on you when there is infection. They would rather give you antibiotics to clear up the infection, then fix the problem. It is easier for them and you and causes less complications.
    I'm still praying for you, sister!

  5. Jill, I stumbled upon your blog through a friend of a friend of a friend. (Isn't that how it often works in the blog world?) Anyway, I feel bad to say this but I enjoyed your dentist story and laughed out loud a few times.

    I empathize w/you on this story. When I was too young to know better but old enough to have my own insurance, my dentist suggested I get all 4 of my wisdom teeth pulled. And a couple of cavities filled. And a sealant put on to protect my receeding gum lines. He did this all in one visit. With novocaine only. And I required stitches for 3 of the 4 pulled wisdom teeth. One of those stitches went through a nerve. Augh!!!

    If your dentist hadn't been practicing for so long, I'd wonder if we went to the same one! But alas, my dentist was young and cute. (Maybe that was part of what led me to blindly follow his "going to the oral surgeon is a waste of time and money" theory.)

    My oh my, it was a good 5 years before I was strong enough to step into a dentist's office again!

    Thanks for brightening my day!
    Beth Lewis


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