My wisdom tooth surgery with local anaesthesia

I had a wisdom tooth surgery about 2 days ago, and was given 5 working days of MC. So here I am, having a little luxury of time to blog down my experience. By recording this experience, I hope that it will be useful to those who want to find out more about wisdom tooth surgery procedures using local anaesthesia, and hopefully, lessen the uncertainties and fear of it.

My wisdom tooth surgery was supposed to happen in late January/early February when the throbbing headaches and jaw pain came early this year. But due to work/church commitment schedule, it was arranged to be in end February. Thankfully, the doctor gave me antibiotics to tide me over the pain period. But the pain came back over the CNY. Although surgeries are not something I anticipate or enjoy, I was actually looking forward to my wisdom tooth surgery to finally rid myself of the excruciating pain and painkiller popping.

Choosing a doctor

I went to Popular Dental Clinic (Woodlands) and Dr Kenneth Lee was my wisdom tooth surgeon. I specifically requested a male doctor as I believe that males have more physical strength to pull out my infected and impacted tooth. Since the surgery was to be done with local anaesthesia (meaning, I will be fully awake to feel the tugging of the tooth, the sound of drilling and cracking URGH!), having physical strength to get the impacted tooth out without too much tugging was imperative!

Here’s an approximate timeline of what happened:

2.20pm: I reached the clinic and was greeted with the receptionists’ warm smiles. They got me to fill up forms of my medical history and ensure that I have sufficient monies in my Medisave account to settle the wisdom tooth surgery.

2.35pm: Went into the dental room and saw Dr Lee and his dental assistant, a motherly looking lady. She helped to get the X-ray imaging of my mouth done in a separate small room. It was over in less than 5 minutes.

2.40pm: After the X-ray imaging, Dr Lee gave me a detailed explanation of my wisdom tooth situation, how he was going to remove it, and went through the risks involved in the surgery, including the possibility of long-term or permanent damage of the jaw nerves. Thankfully, from the X-ray image, my jaw nerves are rather separate from my gums = lower chance of the nerves being injured by the pulling and tugging of the impacted tooth. I also found out that I had to: 1) Find another time to mend the tooth in front of my impacted tooth, where the old filling had been chipped off by the impacted tooth; and 2) Remove the right-hand side of my wisdom tooth with another surgery (WHAAATT)!

2.45pm: Signed the paper acknowledging that the doc had gone through the procedures with me and that I was aware of the risks involved. I was given a pair of tinted googles to wear (probably to protect me from seeing those big, bad dental tools) as I lay down on the dental chair.

2.50pm: Given 5 jabs of anaesthesia to my gums (and tongue area, I think). The usual was about 3 to 4 but Dr Lee said that my tooth was quite badly infected, so I needed more anaesthesia to numb the area. The injections were not a walk in the park. Every time the needle went in, I could feel the sharp, sourish tinge to my gum. Shoulders tensed, I just closed my eyes and winced. Dr Lee was nice – before every jab, he would say, “Sorry for the pain”, counted to 3, told me to take a deep breath before injecting the anaesthesia into my gums. Dr Lee’s small, assuring act really helped make the injections more bearable. He also made sure that the left-side of my mouth was completely numb by prodding my gums with some dental tool (this was how I got my 5th jab as I could still feel some sensation of the dental tool after the 4th jab). After the 5th jab, I lay there for about 3 to 5 minutes to allow the anaesthesia to take effect. For those who are not sure how numbness is like, your mouth is supposed to feel tingly, just like how your numb legs feel when you have been sitting in an awkward position.

3pm: With the left-side of my mouth fully numbed, the surgery proceeded. Dr Lee told me that if I felt any other further pain midway the op, I could raise my left hand so that he could inject my gums with more anaesthesia if necessary. Dr Lee was supposed to saw off the top part of my tooth before cracking my tooth into 2 parts to remove the roots. Before every move, he would prime me what to expect, like how I would hear a drilling sound, or that he was going to start with the cracking. I could feel and hear the full glory of the pressure, drilling and cracking of the tooth, but I just closed my eyes to stop myself from imagining nasty things were being done in my mouth. After every move, Dr Lee would tell me to rest my mouth for a while (by closing it). When Dr Lee speaks to me, he would do it in English and to his dental assistant, Chinese. This was how I differentiated the instructions he gives to me and his assistant during the op.

3.25pm: The drilling, the cracking, the tugging, the holding down of my jaw. I felt Dr Lee trying his best to yank out my tooth and his breathing was getting a little heavier. My body was tensed. As my tooth was quite badly infected, I was afraid that more pain might come. Dr Lee mentioned before the op that there might be a need to do another anaesthetic jab if the earlier jabs were not sufficient to penetrate deep into the gums. I prayed and asked God to help me go through this successfully.  Suddenly, I felt that Jesus was beside me, hovering above me and He said, “You are my child, I will not let anything happen to you. You will be ok.” With that, I immediately felt my body loosening itself. And then, came the last yank. Dr Lee declared, “Your wisdom tooth is out!”

3.30pm: Dr Lee asked me to close my mouth to rest again. He then prepared the stitches. I felt the thread at the side of my mouth when he was stitching the wound up, but thankfully, I didn’t sense the needle poking me.

3.35pm: Stitches done. Dr Lee stuffed a gauze into my wound and asked me to bite down hard to stop the bleeding. He told me of the medication that he was going to give me. I was to pop the antibiotics, anti-swelling medication and Panadol as soon as I got home. He gave me a strong painkiller too, but told me to take it an hour and a half later as I had earlier in the afternoon taken Ibuprofen (another painkiller) before the op, and that could not be taken together with this strong painkiller. Dr Lee showed me my badly decayed, bloody wisdom tooth too. It was grrrrooooosssssss! I asked to keep it.

3.40pm: Went out of the dental room and waited for the receptionists to prepare the medicine for me. After explaining again the dosage of my medication, they also told me how I should take care of my wound after the op. I was asked specifically not to use a straw to drink, or rinse, or gargle as these actions might cause the bloodclot in my wound to not form properly. They prepared a sheet of post-op advice which I felt was useful as a reference. I also arranged a date with the clinic to remove my stitches.

3.45pm: Left the clinic and popped by a nearby supermarket to purchase my own Panadol, some yogurt and juice as food.

4.15pm: Got home and rested!

Really thank God for bringing me through this surgery, and arranging a good doctor. Kudos to Dr Lee and the dental clinic team for their professionalism!