For the last week I've been telling people I'm getting my wisdom tooth out on Wednesday. This has universally met with sympathy followed by stories of how horrible an experience it was to the speaker or to someone the speaker knows.
I've heard stories of dentists yanking on one tooth for a whole hour before it decided to leave the jaw and come free. I've heard stories of abscesses and damage to neighbouring teeth. I've heard stories of where the tooth split; leaving parts of the root still embedded in the gum. Stories of dentists digging relentlessly into the gum while the short term anesthetic wore off...
What I didn't hear was one good story. Not a single hint that this procedure, that dentists are probably performing every day, could go off without a hitch.
I'm certain that my friends and family were not tring to make me cancel my appointment and that they probably didn't see anything wrong in telling me these stories. They were merely trying to impress me, while telling a story which had elicited sympathy for them in the past.
I've watched myself do a similar thing before. I'll probably be guilty of doing it again.
But meanwhile, I'll share my own wisdom tooth saga. I walked into the dentist on Wednesday morning with a great deal of trepidation. I was early but they saw me immediately, so I didn't even have much time of sitting in the waiting room fretting.
The dentist numbed my gum with some gell (which I hate because it dissolves and runs around my mouth and numbs my tongue as well). He then attacked me at length with the traditional weapon of all dentists: the needle. The gell had only partly done its job, as usual, but I managed not to squirm too much.
Once the area was properly numbed, and that numbness tested, the dentist put his plier-like tools into my mouth and tried to get a grip on my tooth. There were some scrapping sounds but it seemed he wasn't having much success. After a short time he swapped to another tool and did something else for a few seconds.
Then he told me it was all over.
I wasn't inclined to believe him, to be honest. Where was the pain? Where was the huge effort to rip the tooth out of the bedrock of my jaw? How could it be over in less than 2 minutes?
Still, he showed me the tooth and gave me some gauze to bite down on.
So I become living evidence that not all wisdom tooth removals are as bad as the stories.
The whole appointment took less than 15 minutes and the first 7 of those minutes involved me getting into the chair, them getting the tools ready and general discussion of what was to happen.
Of course, had the whole saga been more interesting I too could have had an impressive story to tell. The only impressive bit about my story is its apparent uniqueness. On the other hand, I was happy to be able to eat a proper lunch 3-4 hours after the visit and, except for a 2 day ban on alcohol and hot drinks, my week has mostly continued on as normal.
Since I don't feel a great need to impress people with war stories at the moment, I think I prefer eating solid food and the lack of pain and discomfort in my mouth.