New Year, Less Me

I’ve kicked of my 2019 in true style, by having a piece of my skull yanked out of socket. That’s right, on the third day of this year I got so bored of life in 2019 that I chose to have a second wisdom tooth removed (sorry 2019, but you really need to up your game).

For those less familiar with my life, you’ll find the delightful account of my last wisdom tooth extraction that took place back in 2016 here. I suppose the main difference between the circumstance of that experience and this is that the first wisdom tooth to be removed was a delightful little critter that was burrowing a hole into the side of my cheek. I was doubled over in absolute pain the day I stumbled into a private clinic to have an emergency removal (thanks massively to Mumma Bennett who scouted out the surgery on my behalf). The wisdom tooth being removed this time round who I will fondly as ‘Left Upper Eight’ had been giving me grief for some years now, but nothing quite like the previous tooth that had being trying to burst out of my cheek, Baby Alien style. Left Upper Eight liked to keep me on my toes, a mouth ulcer here and there, an odd antibiotic-fixing infection every so often to keep me on my toes, but day to day little more than an occasional jab to remind me of its existence.

After a particularly challenging couple of weeks around Christmas time I finally made the decision to be done with Upper Eight’s tricks and be rid of him/her/it(?) for good. It says a lot that top of my New Year to do list was call the London surgery to book in an examination and removal.

I’d had this done before, so waiting for my appointment didn’t bother me in the same way as it had done the years before. Course, the private dentist’s waiting room had had large leather seats and played Heart radio which you could listen to with an selection of Women’s Weeklies. The NHS waiting room at my London dentist is none of these things, but then it’s also less than half the price for what it clinically defines as Band Two treatment. Besides, who really cares about their horoscope for the week when they’re about to have a surgical drill put in their mouth? A Christmas present guide on the Top 111 Coffee Shops in London will do the job.

I was told to go down to the dentist, an unusual experience for this dentistry as in all my previous dentist surgeries I’d become acquainted with nurses leading me through to the chair itself. Pros of this mean no need for that awkward small talk that you have to make both sufficient and short enough to fill the ten second gap from waiting room to dentist, the con is that on this occasion I found myself walking hesitantly down into the basement area of the surgery where my dentist was ready and waiting. When going for a check-up it’s bright and breezy, but knowing you’re going to have a tooth extracted makes you feel a bit uneasy. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t going down to the hull of a ship where the dentist was little more than a drunk sailor with a saw. I put on my best normal look as I walked into the room.

“How are you Alice?” The dentist asked.

“I’m here to get a tooth removed that’s making me miserable in a procedure that short term will make me even more miserable. How do you think I feel?” I thought to myself, nut instead I said…

“Alright, I’ve been better.”

He went through the procedure and I smiled and nodded throughout as he explained the potential complications. To cover his own back, that I was sure of, although the complications became increasing gruesome. I started to squirm in my seat, the private dentist had never informed me of any potential complications before.

“And finally there’s a risk the removal of the bone can cause a hole in the sinus. Why does that cause an issue you ask…”

“I didn’t” I thought.

“Well that means when you eat food could get up your nose because the two spaces would become one. I’d stitch it though, you wouldn’t even be aware of me doing that if it happened.”

“Yippee for that” said the dry voice my head as I outwardly smiled pleasantly. Sat in the chair I forced myself to sign the form to give this man full control over something I was beginning to regret choosing. Maybe the antibiotics weren’t so bad.

Sparing all the details of what happened (more because I was both thankfully unaware due to the local aesthetic and having my eyes tightly shut) about ten minutes later, if that, I opened my eyes with a lump of surgical gauze in my mouth and the offending tooth laid bare on a tray. When asked if I wanted to keep it the drugs, gauze and moment itself made my response usual and typically Alice.

“You’re cute.” I said to the tooth. From the corner of my eye I could see the dentist and the nurse exchanging a look. I studied its shape and yellowed colour from the long hook that that previously sat below the gum line. It really wasn’t cute.

“So you want to keep it?” The dentist repeated, slight bafflement in his voice. Clearly I was one of a minority to take such interest in a tooth, at least one of the few people over the age of 11.

Sense returned to me. “Err, actually no, it’s alright.” As drawn as I was to the tooth I remembered I had plenty of other functioning teeth in my mouth to marvel at. The drugs and the moment itself started to wear off, to be replaced with a new sensation in my mouth that made me keen to release myself from the small white room.

“You’ll start feeling pain in the jaw area where the tooth has been extracted, that’s normal.” The Dentist said, before going through the aftercare process. I signed the last form, thanked the man for removing the tooth but took leave my leave quickly. I returned to the flat thankful that its emptiness meat I could groan through the gauze, my pain explicit but implicit to me and myself only.

Which puts me where I am now, currently working through a post surgery recovery plan to get me back to my normal-ish self. There have been ups and downs, downs with the pain, the unable to drink coffee until it is barely warm, unable to eat solid or large meals. Ups when the pain killers kick in and feeling neutral is a blessing, when I get over the foul taste and the salt water temporarily eases the soreness. My tongue has yet to reach that curious stage when it’ll explore that side of the mouth and find the crater that exists where Left Upper Eight used to be. In repulsion the oral muscle will then swiftly retreat back to its former position where it’ll remain in hiding for several weeks. It happened before and it’ll happen again, I just know it.

I’m glad to be rid of my second wisdom tooth and long term know I will look at this as a good decision to make in my life. Short term pain for long term gain as the gym freaks would say. Ironically I’ve been told to stay away from vigorous exercise for at least a week, so I guess that’ll be my excuse for eating cakes and hanging out in coffee bars for the time being.

What can I say? New Year, less me.


An Unwise Wisdom Tooth

As I found myself sat in a medical waiting room all I could think of (besides the pain) was “here we go again”.

This time around however there were some minor differences. For one, the cause of my being there was not a smashed in face, but a troublesome wisdom tooth (unfortunately there are no photo ‘beauties’ of my injuries. I mean who can forget this stunner?)


Also, due to the severity and urgency of my condition, I was in the waiting room of a private dentist instead of one belonging to a NHS dentist (the type I would normally choose). Having your regular dentistry tell you that ‘there are no dentists on site on a Friday’ and suggest you call 111 or go to A&E is a bit of an inconvenience when you have a tooth protruding into your cheek. In such a state I was happy to take mumma Bennett’s advice and go private. Thanks also to the quick thinking and research of mumma Bennett, I was able to go to one locally which had an emergency appointment slot. Unfortunately this slot was in 20 minutes and I had no idea where I was going. Never in my life did I expect to be running to the dentist.

With (somehow) a bit of time to spare I was able to take in the waiting room. The background music was a suitable soundtrack of Heart Radio (because who doesn’t love a bit of Ed Sheeran?) but I’ll leave you to spot the main difference between the private waiting room compared to an NHS one:


Well, other than the fact it’s the most stylish waiting room I’ve ever been in, there were zero people in there. Heck, even the receptionist left me alone for a while. I know it goes without saying but in the NHS waiting rooms are considerably busier. Also, the people on reception never put out free tubes of toothpaste and if they did they’d watch you like a hawk to put you off taking them. I may have taken a few…(look, if I’m going to go private I’ve got to try and offset the costs somehow.)

Went in to see the dentist and he confirmed what I knew to be the case, that it was the wisdom tooth causing the pain I was experiencing. What I didn’t quite realise was how bad it had become. Over the course of several weeks the tooth had started to stick into my cheek and, well, rub. It certainly explained why it was hurting to talk and eat and also why the mass consumption of gum aesthetic had done me no good but made my throat numb to hot drinks (when one is in pain, one much clutch at silver linings). The dentist also showed me a delightful photo image of the tooth in question on a screen in front of me. I know I’m British but I couldn’t help feel a bit awkward as I lay in a chair with the pair of us spending about five minutes looking at my infected cheek. To my knowledge in the NHS it’s “your tooth needs to come out”, “ok” and you go from there. It was when he asked to have the image saved that my mind started to wonder. I mean, what does he want to do with that photo? Does he have a album of all the wisdom teeth he’s ever pulled out, or does he just keep the favourites? When I leave, will I have the option to select the image and get it made into a key ring?

Wisdom tooth extraction is, in my squeamish mind, not something I find either interesting or fun to talk about. Number one reason why I couldn’t be a dentist? The noises. I’ll leave it there.

Surgery done and dusted I was presented with the tooth. I wasn’t really sure what I was meant to say, whether I was meant to go ‘yippee!’ or ‘good, I can verify you are a dentist now”. Not knowing what to go with, the first thing that sprang into my mind, the very thing I thought would be appropriate in this situation was simply “well, I’m certainly not going to get that put on a necklace!” The room  was silent. I’ll admit the statement lacked impact on account of the aesthetic and the cotton wool shoved in my mouth. The delivery was a little off.

I tried to salvage the situation when the dentist asked me with genuine concern if someone was coming to pick me up. “Oh yes,” I said, “family are coming. I’m going to walk home from here, it isn’t far.” I pointed out the window to a patch of street paving, “I’ll just avoid walking on that stretch of pavement, I tripped and smashed my head on the pavement there a few months back!” I said it light heartedly, but instead of mild chuckles, the dentist looked at me in a very concerned way. The nurse looked at me like I was a puppy with a broken leg. I knew I wasn’t going to win over this crowd. I left the room like a true stand up comedian.

“Err, anyway, thank you very much for seeing me,” I said, “it’s been a blast!” And walked out the room.

A blast?! I’d just had a dentist rip out a tooth from my gums and I described the whole experience as a blast? All I can hope is that the awful humour can be explained on the drugs migrating from mouth to brain.

I tell you what certainly wasn’t a blast, the bill. Yep, that would be the main difference between NHS and private. Again, I can only assume the numbing drugs helped me get over that.

Anywho, post surgery I was unable to smile but that was about it. Here is proof of me trying so hard to use my face muscles, so hard:


You can probably see a little it of swelling, but luckily that is the extent of the physical short-term impact of the extraction.

I’ve been feeling a bit up and down but I’ll be back in work and back to my normal, fully blown awkward self in no time. Maybe I’ll even start thinking up what my next calamity in about six months’ time will be…