Tooth Fairy

My tongue rolls over the gum where my tooth used to be, pushing the suture into the fold of my cheek. It’s no longer numb from the anaesthetic and pain relievers. There’s an ache that hunkers in my jawline, striking out towards the gum when I’m least prepared.

Last Friday, two weeks out from my 49th birthday, on my 22nd wedding anniversary, I had five teeth removed. They hadn’t bothered me, never caused me pain or irritation, never given me so much as a niggle or a twinge, but they had to go.

The reasons why are banal and practical.

I’d delayed their removal for seven or eight years. First because they weren’t really causing a problem, and then because we moved to the other side of the world and finding a dentist I was comfortable with and who would cater to my nervousness and who came recommended and… you get the point. I was scared and found reasons not to do it. I would have continued to delay it again if my current dentist hadn’t been quite so proactive in getting my x-rays to the oral surgeon, and the oral surgeon’s offices hadn’t been quite so diligent in contacting me to set up an appointment.

Yes, that’s right. I was swept along on a tide of apathy on my part, and excellent patient service on the part of the dental professionals. Too polite to blow them off when they were actually on the phone to me, I found myself agreeing to appointments and procedures.

I don’t want it to sound like I was press-ganged into removing perfectly healthy teeth. They needed to go. All of them. I’m largely apathetic, but I’m not unaware of health risks.

As far as surgeries go, this was a good one. The staff was diligent, professional and caring. From the admitting medical receptionist, to the surgical nurse, to the surgeon and anaesthetist, these are folks who understand how nervous and fragile their patients are, and who treat them with respect and love. The medical system can too often be impersonal and even callous, it can make you feel isolated, afraid, and powerless. This was not one of those times.

“The Tooth Fairy had better look like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and be there when I wake up,” I said before I faded under the influence of the general anaesthetic. The surgical nurse high-fived me and the surgeon laughed so hard my ears rang with the sound of his joy as I drifted into the deep nothingness of sedation.

Five days out, what minor swelling there was is gone and I’m actually able to chew food again. My jaw still aches like I’ve been in a boxing match, but I know that’ll fade with time.


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Image credit: AtesDesigns/pixabay