Four less teeth: ending my summer with painful wisdom teeth extraction

September 5, 2016 — by Julia Miller

Junior on extracting wisdom teeth over summer

At first glance, the summer of 2016 seemed like a glamorous one. I transformed into a tourist in Los Angeles, cruising Route 66 in a blue convertible Mustang. Underneath flashing light shows, I boogied to funk bands and drank mouthwatering milkshakes at the High Sierra Music Festival. I flew to heavenly Hawaii, where I soared above the ocean on a parasail and snorkeled among the ocean’s vibrant sea life.

Nothing could ruin this summer, I thought as I basked in the Hawaiian sun. Sadly, I was wrong.

This summer, I not only experienced the most astounding moments of my life, but also got a taste of absolute misery, and for me, that was my wisdom teeth extraction.

Many people had warned me about the agony of getting wisdom teeth removed. But as I walked into the oral surgeon’s office, I pushed away every negative surgery story I had heard and told myself mine would be completely different. I was right: Mine was much, much worse.

When I try to recall the memory of leaving the surgeon’s office and driving home, I cannot since I was so  heavily drugged. The first memory I have, however, is of my wobbly body clambering back into bed, gauze nearly falling out of my gaping mouth.

I became a whining, agitated mess. Every 20 minutes, the gauze inside my mouth had to be changed to promote the formation of blood clots over my wounds. The numbness from the surgery didn’t wear off until nighttime, so my throat felt  completely numb. I nearly choked on my first sip of water and couldn’t swallow solid food until the next morning.

The bleeding inside my mouth went on for an “unusual amount of time,” according to my oral surgeon. It continued for roughly 48 hours, and to stop the bleeding, I had to put tea bags in my mouth, a so-called “natural remedy.”

For the next week, my relaxed, summer life turned into an interminable torture. I couldn’t drink out of straws or eat anything chewier than pasta. I longed to eat a home-cooked meal and use a normal toothbrush, since I was subject to using one with sensitive bristles.

Pain shot up my jaw and cheekbones when I laughed, and I mumbled every time I spoke. I was put on several post-surgery medications to help fight off infections, but they only made me sleepy and irritable.

Finally, the checkup at the oral surgeon’s office had arrived, and I couldn’t wait for my suffering to end. At this point, I was ready to eat a delicious cheeseburger for lunch, when I could bite into it pain-free.

But the oral surgeon only handed me a plastic syringe, used to clean out “debris” from the holes in my gums that my wisdom teeth left behind. On top of that, she told me there was nothing she could do about my aching jaw and that I’d just have to wait it out.

So, no cheeseburger. For another torturous week, I had to continue to eat soft foods and add squirting water in my mouth to my night routine in order for my extraction sites to heal. And I thought my wisdom teeth removal couldn’t get any worse.

So, when people ask how I changed this summer, I’ll eagerly tell them my newfound love for traveling or the way I conquered my fear of heights while parasailing 80 feet in the air. But inside, I’ll think of how I have four less teeth and one more anguished memory.

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