Sunday, October 14, 2012


Its been awhile since I've been to a dentist - three years.  I know, I know - spare me the lecture.  I had a molar, lower right side that has been loose for about four months.  The thing started to hurt when I would bite down on it.  Why didn't I go to the dentist then, you ask?  I hate dentists - pure and simple and I still hate em even more now.  I was driving past the insurance authorized dentist office one day after leaving the lake and went in to see if they could pull it.  
"Oh no sir - we have to schedule you in for Xrays and consultation.  We may not be able to actually take measures addressing your problem at that time.  Usually a second appointment is necessary to start treatments."
So, they gave me an appointment for 35 days away.  When the appointment day finally came and all the preliminary forms were filled out and Xrays taken - I took a seat in the chair for the professional investigatory procedure.  One Dr. Chang appeared in the doorway and offered his good day in a mixture of Chinese and broken English.  He was about 5'6" tall and thin.  He wore the white smock representative of his profession.  He pulled the rectangular, florescent light down in front of my face and said, "open pwease," to which I said, "hold on there fella.  What kind of grades you git in college?  Were you a A student or did ya just float through?  And, you're a legal resident, aren't ya?"  

I said all this with a smirk on my face and he responded with a like smile.  I wanted to establish who was in control here.  I figured I succeeded in letting him know that he was definitely in control.

"Open," he said.


My Xrays instantly appeared on the TV screen in front of my face and he started to explain them to me.  

He said, "All this brown area on the edge of all the teeth is bacteria.  The bone has been eaten away from the teeth by the bacteria and soon all teeth will become loose as they have lost foundation.  I will pull this loose one here today as it bothers you.  No big deal."

 I haven't had this long of a conversation with one of these guys in over 40 years.  

He finally said, "all have to come out.  Can do it now or maybe end of next summer or following year when they all get loose."

I sat up in the chair and asked, "you sure?"

He replied, "I got all high grades in school.  Yes, I know what to do."

I had to laugh at that.  He further stated that all that bacteria around the teeth is being breathed into my lungs as I take in air through my mouth.  From there it goes straight to the blood stream and then the heart is the first stop for the blood where it drops the bacteria.  He explained that the roots of two molars are infected  also.  I told him I don't have any discomfort at all.  He shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something about good grades in school.

After talking to the office manager, an appointment was made for the extraction.  I was very nervous about all this.  Dr. Chang said not to worry and that he had an endless amount of Novocaine on hand as well as some other new tricky pain killers he kept in his desk.  Oh boy!  I said I wanted to be put totally to sleep for this.  The Office manager said, that would require an anesthesiologist and an oral surgeon, both of which the insurance company would not pay for.  So, the insurance companies do dictate one's treatment.   Another insurance company and/or dentist would be able to provide both and the procedure would have gone unnoticed by me, the patient.  I didn't do this as the potentially new insurance company would probably look at this situation as a preexisting condition and not cover it for a year.

The big day came around at last and I drove on over to see my very reliable and grade A student, Dr. Chang.  I was ushered into a room with a simple dentist chair, TV and a tray.  A pretty little dental assistant rushed back and forth bringing tools, chains, picks, whips and an assortment of other tooth related paraphernalia.  Paper wrappers were removed from small tools and bottles while the dreaded high speed dental drill was placed on the tray before my eyes.   Last, but not least, the extraction pliers were assembled on a nearby table.  There were three of them and each had a curved nose where it gripped the offending tooth.  Finally, Dr. Chang walked over to the chair carrying four stainless steel hypodermic syringes.  Each needle was at least ten inches long or longer.  Great Scott!  He held the first one up in front of his eyes and pushed a few drops of the life saving liquid from the needle tip.  It is right here that I caused him to hesitate.  "Dr. Chang - you tellin me the truth about yer grades in college?"

His muffled reply through the white mask covering his face was, "yes, yes Garwy - I tell trufe."

Why hell - that's good enough for me.  "Lets get this over with doc."

He just put the sharp point of the needle against the lower gums and gently touched it to spots around the base of the lower gums about half inch apart, all the while pushing out the wonderful pain lessening novocane.  

Then he says, "Ok - feel slight pinch."

I knew what was coming.  He slid the needle down between every third tooth and I could feel pain.  I held him up and reminded his claim about no pain.  He proceeded.  

This hurt!  Point one.  Never trust a dentist when he says pain free.

He then proceeded to the top teeth and repeated the process.  The contents of five of those stainless spewers of novocane were expended into my gums.  My lips went numb and I figured as long as this level of numbness was maintained - I could endure anything this little Doctor could dish out.

Maybe I shouldn't go into detail about this procedure.  Some of you may not be able to cope with the pain and agony of it all.   Too bad.  Its life.

He selected a seven inch long tool with a flat, screwdriver type end and inserted it between two molars in the back of my mouth and twisted it.  Then the tool was inserted, it felt like, between the roots of the last molar and he pried and pried.  The gums were pushed down in the front and back of the tooth.  The extractor pliers were selected and he pulled and pulled.  Then he tried to pull the tooth sideways out toward the chin.  Then he pushed it toward the inside of my mouth.  He kept this up for the longest time.  Then on one of the outward pulls I heard a cracking sound.  A comment was made by the good Doctor that I didn't catch  and he held the tooth in front of my eyes, pointing out the dark brown areas on the roots indicating where the bacteria was dining away.  The tooth beside the extracted tooth was next.  The same process was used for all the teeth.  After the second tooth was extracted and shown to me - the doc and assistant said, "time take break.  We be back."

I wasn't going anywhere at this point.

I won't go through anymore tooth extraction descriptions.  All were very difficult to pull.  A couple teeth broke off leaving the roots embedded in the bone forcing my highly educated Chinese dentist to use the drill to remove the root tips and broken off pieces.  Any teeth with caps installed simply crushed and were drilled out.  The novocane was re-administered a second and a third time and It was wearing off rapidly.  I really made it clear to my little white coated friend that I wasn't going to put up with the pain any more and to be really cognizant where this issue was laying as his personal priority on the dental table and to take my statements about pain seriously.

The canine teeth are the worse teeth to extract.  They have some really deep roots that are curved and embed deep in the jaw.. This gives these teeth strength.  Probably a holdover from our saber-tooth tiger days.   

The last tooth was removed at 1:35 PM.  We started at 9:00AM.  That's 4 hours and 35 minutes of tooth wrenching torture.  

The good doctor appears with his face mask pulled down and a big smile on his face.  He is holding an upper and a lower tooth plate, as they are called.  These particular plates rest over the gums and protect the area that was just ravaged by my new and smart friend - Dr Chang.  After antibiotic cream was applied, the plates were fitted onto my gums.  Ok - this hurts.  

"Dr. Chang - this hurts like heck," I said.

"No pwabwem."

He picks up the syringe and turns to face me.

"No, No, No more.  I'm done with that stuff.   I'll hand carry the uppers.  The ones on the bottom are ok."

He said, "no you can not leave carrying the teeth.  Let me fix for you."

He disappeared and I heard him using a grinder on the teeth.  I remember thinking - "what have I done.  What have I done!"

He placed the teeth in my mouth followed by two boxes of surgical gauze and turned me toward the door.  My mouth still hurt.

I tried to deal with the pain caused by the new plastic plates in my mouth but couldn't. Phone calls were made and I was back at the dentist office an hour later.  More grinding on the plate for the top was done and I finally told the little doctor fella that all was well.  I have to go back Monday anyhow so I can make it that long.   I'll be fitted for the permanent ones at that time.

So, there you have a rundown on where I have been over the last couple days.  I am definitely out of my element.    I'll probably miss a little work over this because I can't talk plainly right now.  I feel well enough to work.  I haven't eaten for two days and am getting light headed moments now and then.  I do know that these are great pain pills and I was wondering if the prescription could be renewed over a 52 week period.  Doubt it.  Stay tuned in for more medical emergency stories right here on  the renamed blog called, "The Doctor Is Out, of it."  See ya.