I'm not a dentist, but I play one really well.
Before I start this post, I should confess a few things. The first is that I have hypochondriac tendencies and I've been known to Google every single symptom I have. The second is that I have an aversion to the medical system, i.e. doctors, dentists, hospitals etc. The third is that I made a commitment to be more responsible about my health care needs this year. The fourth is that I'm very proud of my teeth; folks are usually impressed to learn I've never worn braces.
Earlier this year, I had a nightmare. In it, I dreamed that my tongue had become a two-headed snake and was lashing out at both of my jaws. I woke up in a cold sweat, and with a pain in my right jaw. I chalked it up to it being a developing canker sore.
Fast forward a few months, and the pain grew. I couldn't sleep because my jaw would just throb in pain. I googled 'healing canker sores' with abandon and tried every solution around. I gargled with my mouthwash. I gargled with salt solutions. I used Orajel. I downed Ibuprofen like it was candy. After one sleepless night, I went to the urgent care clinic desperate for some relief. The nurse said my allergies were probably causing this canker sore, and gave me a prescription for some magic mouthwash. If the problem continued, she suggested I rinse with Maalox and Benadryl.
Well, the problem continued. The throb wasn't just my jaw, but also my back teeth. It was like I was teething all over again. Then I saw the season finale of Mad Men of Mad Men and the main character was fighting with a dental abscess. That's when it hit me. Aha! I have a dental abscess! I shall find a dental office and have the dentist take care of this abcess.
So I step into this office and I tell the dentist all about my woes – that I have an abscess, and maybe a canker sore too, and that I just need relief. He proceeds to poke around in my mouth as a way to do his job, and likely, as a way to keep me from telling him how to do his job. After some poking and prodding, he tells me that what I'd seen in my mouth, it is NOT a canker sore. It's just an ordinary indentation that everyone has. But what was troubling me was my wisdom tooth, which is decaying in that same region. The other two (I have three wisdom teeth, not four) would likely give me the same amount of pain, so it's best to have them all removed. He gave me drugs, and sent me on my way.
Since then, I've called the nearby oral surgeon. I have a preliminary appointment next week, and then we'll set aside a time for the Big Removal. I'm nervous. What helps is knowing that I'll have a legitimate excuse to be away from work. What doesn't help is hearing all of the wisdom teeth horror stories, of which there are 983463473743. And it's only a matter of time before I Google 'wisdom teeth horror stories.'
Anyway, it's time to whip out my insurance card and see what other appointments I need to make. With my family history, I can't afford to avoid medical professionals.