This is part 2. If you haven’t read the first part, please read Anxiety and Wisdom Teeth Extraction.
Walking back through the lobby door of the dentist’s office, I resorted to my usual tactics of bad humor and small talk which are especially noticeable when I’m feeling anxious. The dental assistant and I spoke about the pajamas I was wearing and I nervously giggled as I mentioned how terrified I was to have my wisdom teeth removed.
She sat me down and immediately tried to put my mind at ease. She allowed me to find something on TV that would take my mind off of what was about to happen and walked me through the procedure, putting an emphasis on how routine this was, though no words were going to calm me down.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my dentist was in the lobby, getting the deets about my anxiety from my husband. He knows that I tend to hide it when it’s at its worse, so I appreciate him going behind my back to make sure she was aware.
When my dentist walked in, I felt a small level of comfort. This was only my third time in her office but I already felt comfortable around her. I could tell that she deals with a lot of anxious patients.
She spent the first 10-15 minutes reassuring me that I was in control at all times and would continue to remind me of that throughout the procedure. Only a person who has dealt with anxiety on a daily basis would know that was key to calming an anxious person down. And it was reassuring to know that she cared enough to make sure I was okay.
We decided it would be best to try laughing gas (nitrous oxide). She placed a gray nose mask on my face (I imagined that I looked like an elephant) and told me to breathe in and out through my nose.
After five or so minutes, I didn’t feel any different so she cranked it up a bit. When my face started to tingle, I knew that it was probably working and immediately asked her to lower it. Unfortunately, that tingling feeling amped up my fears vs providing me comfort. It’s one of the reasons that I was never a fan of drinking or drug use. I need to feel in control of my body at all times.
She applied the topical gel to numb the area where she would be injecting the Novocaine. I felt the first needle but as she continued to give me more, I felt nothing though it seemed my heartbeat was increasing with each syringe.
I lost count at some point, but she kept assuring me that she would make sure that I didn’t feel a thing and that to me was half of the battle. I had three c-sections, so I know what it’s like to feel even though you are numb. At least with the c-sections, there is a sheet covering you and you can’t see what’s going on behind it.
I closed my eyes, forming my own sheet. I tried to take my mind off of what was about to happen. I allowed myself to trust my dentist enough to let go of the anxiety, even if just for the moment.
“You are in complete control.”
She started to wiggle and pull on the top wisdom tooth. I could feel pressure, but I felt no pain. I remember thinking about how great it was going to be when she told me the tooth was out.
It felt like an eternity, but I’m willing to bet it didn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to get that first tooth out. When I felt her hand release, there was a sense of relief that filled my body. I knew that if she could get that first one out without a problem, the second one would be out soon enough.
And then I remembered that she told me that the bottom wisdom tooth would be harder to extract. I don’t remember the reason and for some reason, I allowed myself to forget until she started wiggling the bottom tooth.
My heart was racing so fast, I wondered if the nitrous oxide was turned down to zero. I tried to remind myself that it was almost over. My dentist kept telling me that I was more than halfway done.
What seemed like two minutes later, the bottom wisdom tooth was out.
“You did it!”
The next thing I knew, I was getting paperwork and a care package to take home with me. I had to get an x-ray on my way out and then before I knew it, I was in the car and on my way home.
Little did I know that the hardest part was just around the corner.
Stay tuned for the continuation…