Thursday, 2 June 2016

5 Things I Learnt from Extracting my Boyfriend's Wisdom Teeth

So earlier on this month together with the help of one of my consultants, I took out my boyfriend's wisdom teeth... but dealing with that aftermath at a personal level has taught me a great deal!


Serendipitously, on a routine DPT prior to orthodontic assessment I noticed what looked to me the start of disto-cervical caries in my boyfriend's lower left second molar as a result of the impaction of his wisdom teeth. I can recall excitement and the dread when his DPT appeared on the screen.

My experience of dental treatment on myself is pretty limited, so explaining what the aftermath of the procedure would be like I based purely on what patients have told me in the past. So what did I learn from the days following the procedure?


1. A bilateral ID block is uncomfortable

We chose to have both lower 8s in one sitting....so 2 ID blocks and long buccal blocks later I had rendered my other half speechless. Not so great a situation to go back to work in! I do bilaterals ID blocks quite often, so have forgotten the implication for the patient of anaesthetising the entire mandible! 


2. Chewing your lip or tongue can have some nasty consequences

Standard post-op instructions include patients avoiding chewing their soft tissues. An hour after the procedure, I was still receiving messages from my boyfriend accusing me of leaving something hard and gritty in his mouth....give it another hour and the next message was 'Oh, it was my tongue'. Later on in the day I was able to see the damage he had self-inflicted when some nasty ulceration appeared all around his poor tongue. This taught me the importance of stressing this instruction to all our patients!

3. The hamster look lasts for days

So when patients ask you how long swelling lasts for what do you say? A couple of days? Obviously this can vary massively depending on the complexity of surgery, but certainly in this case his swelling and hamster look lasted around 3-4 days! And it gets worse the first 2 days before it gets better - then it can start to bruise extra-orally. He looked a bit jaundiced at one point!


4. Stitches take their time to dissolve

Indeed I learnt this from a couple of patients coming back for post-op pain appointments concerned their stitches hadn't dissolved after 2 weeks. In certain areas of the mouth it can take longer than this! Getting the patient to brush at them with a toothbrush can speed up the dissolving process.


5. Patients don't exaggerate being in pain

I've always been under the impression that patients who come back after an extraction complaining of pain needed to 'man up' a little. But honestly witnessing the pain that follows a wisdom extraction has shown me that in fact it really does hurt and that effective pain control using paracetamol, ibruprofen and dihydrocodeine is required for the first 3-4 days following an extraction. Maybe we don't educate patients enough about how much pain they will be in and patients are not fully prepared. 



Most of all, I now understand why patients come back to see us after their surgery and there's nothing wrong. They are just looking for some reassurance that everything's ok! My boyfriend had me to ask questions and seek reassurance, but most patients you treat will not have that luxury. Perhaps we need to educate our patients better when we perform surgery, especially when it can be more extensive or complex. 


Have you provided treatment for a relative or friend? What was your experience like? Let me know!

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