Sunday, May 8

Post Odontectomy Blues

I had an odontectomy last Friday afternoon, inside the mall, of all places.

Simply stated, an odontectomy is the extraction or removal of a tooth. But there are times when a regular extraction can't be performed, like when your third molar, or more popularly known as a wisdom tooth, is stubborn enough and insists on growing any which way it chooses. In this particular case, none of my third molars are in the right position--they are all submerged, and therefore invisible. One of them is even positioned somewhere above a second molar, right near the main vein. The particular molar in question presented a double whammy: it was submerged, and it grew horizontally since there wasn't any more space to speak off. Voila! I had to undergo minor surgery.

All these things came about because I had a really bad toothache nearly two weeks ago. Toothaches are nasty; they make their presence felt just when you're about to sleep. Scientifically explained, this supposedly happens because when we lie down to sleep, more blood goes to our heads. So it is recommended that you elevate your head to minimize the pain. But no amount of hot or cold compresses, mefenamic acid or elevation could solve my problem. I ran to my dentist the following morning. But my dentist wasn't there; I talked to this other dentist girl with bad teeth who advised me to take antibiotics and some more mefenamic and come back tomorrow. This made me suspicious because I've always thought that all dentists have really good teeth. It's like a requirement of the profession or something. A dentist with bad teeth isn't only credible, it's a disgrace to the entire profession.

Since I couldn't trust the pronouncement of Dentist With Bad Teeth, I dragged a friend to accompany me to their dentist, which happened to be in the same building as Manny Calayan's clinic. We know this because while at the counter, approximately three people came up and asked the receptionist which floor Dr. Calayan's clinic was located. There were also a lot of people milling around the lobby, presumably to gawk at celebrities.

When we finally got to the dental clinic, there was quite a wait. The head dentist was busy with this matrona about to fly to Guam the following day. The dentist assigned to me wanted to take x-rays, and they had to do this twice. It would have been okay, except that this woman had extra forceful hands which really pressed down on the film inside my mouth and against an inflamed tooth. "Scream if you must," she said cheerfully.

That's when we found out that I had an impacted third molar. We initially suspected the pain had something to do with a crown installed a year ago, when I bit into some barbecued ribs and chipped my first molar. Anyhow, there was a lot of scurrying about and I was told to take this antibiotic and some pain killers for a week and come back at the end of the week. There was something about that team of dentists that I didn't like. All that scurrying, the back and forth.

So we decided to go and have a third opinion, this time at this clinic inside Megamall. The new dentist confirmed the existence of impacted molar and the necessity of taking it out since it was causing pain in the entire lower jaw. I was advised to finish the previously prescribed medicine and come back the following week, but not after having my other teeth cleaned. There should be a requirement that only people with soft hands can be dentists. Intoning "Sorry, sorry kailangan" doesn't really cut it, since the patient couldn't exactly do anything aside from attempting to scream while some whirring tool is stuffed in your mouth. I also had to have an x-ray taken of all my teeth. That's the only none ouch inducing procedure I had to undergo for this entire ordeal. Panoramic x-rays are cool.

So the odontectomy is inescapable. Dr. R explained that we have evolution to blame for molars getting impacted. The ancient people have larger mouths--not to mention more prominent foreheads--and larger teeth needed to chomp into meat. Since people learned how to cook meat and don't really need too many teeth in their now smaller mouths, the unneeded third molars have no space to grow in anymore. But still our genes are still programmed to produce 32 teeth. When the third molars pop up, usually between the ages 18 to 24, they tend to push the other teeth, producing pressure in the jaws and causing the toothaches, swelling and general discomfort.

Evolution lesson out of the way, I asked for some topical anesthesia so we could get it done and over with. My friend insisted on sitting in the room with me, "For molar support!" Dr. R laughed loudly. "Ha-ha! That's the first time I've heard that," he claimed. I started to doubt whether dentists are also required to be corny. Hello, molar support, isn't that a tired old joke? He had to cut through some bone, which he did while singing along to Side A's "Forevermore".

Dr. R had to cut the tooth into two, crown and root. He took it out and put it in the tray. He got a mirror and showed me the hole where my tooth was. It gaped at me, red and bloody. "Don't worry, the bone will grow back and fill it up. You won't miss it." As he prepared the thread for suturing, he said I could take the tooth home and soak it in some agua oxinada then sun dry it for a day. That way it'll be whiter and I could turn it into matching pendants for my boyfriend and me. If the other molars can be taken out whole, I'd have an entire jewelry set. Ha-ha. He also said that I was rather the perfect patient. I would have bonked him on the head if not for the huge metal thingies in my mouth.

Overall, the operation didn't really hurt that much. Pressure is different from pain, he said. And mostly, I felt the pressure of the drilling and the pulling. What's bugging me mostly is that now I'm square jawed and big faced, but only on the right side. I also can't open my mouth and talk much, since the suture is right in the corner. Can't really eat regular food. I attempted that Saturday morning and the sutures bled.

I stayed away from the student papers because I suspect I'd just be annoyed and start giving everyone 5.0s.
Instead, I rented some really stupid movies to tide me over the weekend. I'm almost finished with my stack, and I'm convinced that Ashton Kutcher is the antichrist.

The high point of this weekend is my mom bought me ice cream. The low point is that it's buko pandan. Or maybe I should just be thankful that, at least, my mom didn't get me halo-halo or ube macapuno?


kPg said...

I just had an odontectomy yesterday! It doesn't hurt anymore, but it's still swollen. How long did it take until everything went back to normal? I assume that everything went well on your part. Any advice that you can give me?

By the way, I wrote about it in my blog, if you want you can check it out. Thanks!

supermomcabbiejane said...

I had my odontectomy last friday and its day 3 post op already and i think i dont need a halloween mask for the halloween season. My right side is puffed like pillsbury and throbbing pain once in a while. I feel like my pain relievers are my vitamins already. I want to feel normal again soon.