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Extraction of infected tooth: quick, easy, sheer relief!!



Sep 17, 2015
Hi all

I found out recently I had chronic infection underneath a 12 year old crown. I've watched the gum getting puffy and dark purple around it. Dealt with a persistent bad taste and bad smell. Didn't want to face dealing with it but simply knew I had to, despite my fear.

My new dentist, who specialises in phobic patients, told me the tooth couldn't be saved, so extraction was my only option. So I bit the bullet and made the appointment.

I have built this thing up in my head for the last two weeks since I saw her, worrying and worrying. Would the infection have spread? Would masses of pus and blood pour out and choke me? Would it smell disgusting and repulse the dentist and nurse? Would people judge me on it when I told them? Would I have a panic attack or faint or cry (I have done all those things before). Round and round, obsessing.

Today I went for my appointment. I have gone from abject terror to profound relief in one appointment.

Here's what happened:

I desparately wanted to stay in bed this morning. Struggled to eat breakfast, my stomach was in knots. Even after travelling into town, I paused in the tube station trying to get up the nerve to go through with it. my heart was pounding and mouth really dry.

I tend to get a bit jumpy and jittery when nervous so I was asked to get there early, so I could be given a sedative (10 mgm of diazepam) to help me calm down. I was left to alone in the 'Quiet Room' with my book to wait. I don't know if the sedative worked psychosomatically or what, but within about 20 minutes I was feeling calmer. That pleasant sensation you get after a couple of beers came over me - by no means drunk, just kind of placid and chilled.

For my appointment, the dentist was really nice. I told her I'd brought my headphones and iPod and she said that was fine, she'd just talk me through as she numbed me up then I could stick the music on. She put some dark glasses on me (presumably to stop the bright lights hurting your eyes). She applied a numbing gel and administered the local very slowly and gently. I felt a tiny, tiny prick of the needle but no other pain whatsoever. Any time I felt a slight urge to swallow/gag (which used to make me panic in the past), the liquid was sucked away. It was as if the nurse was reading my mind.

While I sat up and rinsed, to wait to get numb, we chatted about the music I'd chosen, which lead to a little chat about musicals, acting, school plays and school days, and our mutual dislike for our brown and grey school uniforms! It was very relaxed. She then tested if I was numb, I thought (or imagined) I could still feel a little on one side of the gum so she carefully added some more to make totally sure all was numb.

Then: the extraction itself. She explained calmly that she'd remove the crown first, then the tooth. I could stick my headphones in and she'd be as quick as possible. It was over so quickly I couldn't believe it! Zero pain. A little pressure. Slight cracking/crunching noise when she removed the crown but could hardly notice with music playing. There were a few moments when I could smell the decay (gross, admittedly) but much less than I'd feared.

The nurse then supported my jaw underneath while the dentist removed the tooth. It was a little uncomfortable but nothing like as bad or prolonged as I had imagined. I had literally not even listened to one whole track on my iPod and she tapped my shoulder and said 'it's all out, well done, relax now.'

She gave me a few minutes to recover, just left me quietly to recoup. Then a few stitches (again, totally painless and quick). Biting down on gauze for a few minutes, three separate boys of gauze, until the worst of the bleeding stopped. Again, chatting to me whilst I did this to keep me calm. I'm a boxer so we were joking that it was best I missed sparring for a few weeks!

One gentle rinse, and I was done!

I had the Aftercare chat, also she got me to sit in the waiting room for another ten or so minutes, just to be sure I was feeling okay before I left, as I'd gone a bit pale. After that, I felt totally okay. I even caught the tube home, rather than a cab as planned - that's how normal I felt.

I know the aftercare is a bit of a hassle and there may be some pain, but I'm so happy the worst is over!!

I've learned that finding a good, sympathetic dentist is KEY to overcoming your fear. I could have had the treatment with my previous dentist, to be honest - he's nice enough and competent. He's also NHS and so the private treatment I chose cost a LOT more! But it was totally worth it. My previous dentist was just very casual and blasé about it all. He didn't really listen when I explained how scared I was. That's why I kept making excuses not to go.

I have realised I just needed someone to take a bit of time to help me stay calm. To tell me they understood I was scared. And to just generally be kind to me throughout the treatment. That kindness and understanding made all the difference.

Also, there is nothing worse than worrying constantly about your teeth and working yourself up into a state of panic and despair about them. You tend to imagine the very worst case scenario, which won't often be what you face when you go. And even if it is the worst case scenario - you only have to face it and go through it once, whereas you imagine it and live it in your mind hundreds of times. It's exhausting. The anticipation and anxiety is the worse thing of all. Even though the treatment is deeply unpleasant, the relief of going, the pride in taking control and facing your fears - this really does override the unpleasantness of the work itself.

I am so happy and relieved. Also thankful for the advice on this forum! I really hope my story can help people feel less frightened!

So happy all worked out so well for you. That's a huge accomplishment on your part and you should feel quite proud of yourself right about now! Thank you for your detailed, insightful account of your experience. I've been delaying the extraction of an abscessed tooth for over a year out of sheer terror and found your post reassuring and encouraging - and I'm sure many others will too.

May I ask if you are planning on replacing the tooth with an implant or something and if so, would you be so kind as to post that experience as well?

Very relieved for you. Congrats on getting it done! Here's to a speedy recovery.
Hi Mugz

Thanks for your message and yes, I feel very proud!

I've had two major things done at the dentist in my life - one was getting the crown fitted when I was 21 and getting the crowned tooth removed yesterday at age 32 was the second. And I've had a few small fillings over the years. I can honestly say the extraction was the easiest, least painful and best experience of them all. Even though it was the thing I was most scared of! The sound of the drill and feeling of having a filling was much, much more unpleasant, to me.

I read a lot of posts on here from people saying similar, that it was simple and painless, but the fact that my tooth was so infected (rather than just in an awkward place or a wisdom tooth) made me think it would be much worse. My dentist just told me that yes, the gum was a bit 'mashed' but she just put some stitches in and it's all looking good today.

I do honestly think that the things we imagine are very often so much worse than the actual experience. If you find a good, sympathetic dentist, it can actually even be enjoyable in a weird way, due to the extreme relief afterwards. The stress and worry and fear had been driving me crazy. Not to mention the sore gum and bad taste in my mouth. I have been taking photos of the healing process, I wonder if posting those would help people... will have to see if that's a good idea/recommended somewhere on the forum.

I am indeed planning to get an implant to replace the tooth, as the teeth either side are healthy so my dentist doesn't recommend a bridge. I have to wait at least 6 months for the gum to fully heal and the bone to grow back/recover. So I hope to start the process at the end of the year. I will definitely post about it, this forum has helped me through the whole thing and I want to help other people as I really feel empathy for anyone struggling with dental fear.

I hope you are able to get your tooth seen to - do you have a decent dentist who you trust? Let me know how you get on... :)
Hi again!
I appreciate your encouraging posts and would so love to believe the extraction is the easiest of all - I'm very happy that's the way it went for you. What a relief. Your words make complete sense yet I can't quite get myself to do what needs to be done. Fear is a big obstacle. Not just of the actual event but the healing after and replacing the tooth. All more than I think I'm capable of...at least right now.

I'll spare you the whole saga, the short"ish" story is I avoided the dentist for 10 years, a painful tooth needing a root canal got me back through the door. I did the root canal and crown, it abscessed, I waited 16 weeks to go back out of fear but eventually consented to endo redoing root canal through new crown, it abscessed AGAIN and now needs extraction. I've been sent to an oral surgeon for GA for this and referred for GA for any work because apparently I am the kind of patient they prefer not to treat awake. Unfortunately IV sedation was not enough the last go around and nothing was accomplished. So yes I have an oral surgeon I guess I "trust" to the extent I am capable but have cancelled the appointment twice. In the meantime the abscess lives on, jaw hurts, fear grows. You know, sounds like you were there too.
Thanks so much for your kind words. It's only been a day and a half and seems to be healing well. I've taken ibruprofen every six to eight hours but had literally no pain yet, I'm amazed. Maybe I'm very lucky in having no complications. I didn't have an abcess but there was chronic infection right into to the root so I thought it would be much worse than it's been (touch wood I'm not speaking too soon!).

I understand the fear. I approached even my initial consultation with utter dread. I couldn't sleep for worrying. I am something of a control freak, I hate being out of my comfort zone and dislike showing weakness. I find it very hard to admit when I feel scared or upset... All of which makes matters worse, as it means I've not felt able to ask anyone to support me. Even though it's stupid and I know my good friends wouldn't judge me, I just cannot let go of this 'tough' persona I've built up. But enough about me ;)

I'm so sorry it's so difficult for you, but glad you've found a decent surgeon. I'm afraid I don't know much about IV sedation or other options - would they do the work under general anaesthetic? Have you tried searching this site for someone else who's had the same problem (abcess), I expect there are a few who could advise you with more specific knowledge than me. I'd bet someone somewhere has gone through the same thing.

One positive step I'd recommend, is to take it one step at a time. Rather than thinking about extraction recovery or replacement options, just focus on how you can get through the first stage of the journey. When I first was told I'd eventually lose the tooth (over a year ago), I started researching implants before I'd even dealt with the terror of having the extraction done, or processed the sadness of losing a tooth. Reading all this stuff about dry socket, gum problems, bone grafts etc. just freaked me out and delayed me getting the treatment I needed - I could have saved myself a LOT of worry by focusing on the first stage. That's what I finally did last month: I accepted I needed it done. Worked on my fear, trying to stay calm. Found a dentist for phobics. Made the appointment just for a chat and examination. Found this forum. Made the appointment for the extraction. Managed to go through with it. And now the recovery and healing is taking care of itself - once it was done I was so relieved I felt up to dealing wit the recovery. There is so much advice available, almost an 'idiot's guide', it's hard to go wrong. and as far as implants etc. go, I'm just dealing with the immediate and leaving that for later. No sense in worrying about it yet.

I know it's much easier said than done! I can't even say for sure how I got myself to go through with it this time. It has taken over a year (more like two) since I knew something was not right and I just tried to ignore it. I have some other health problems that are not responding to my current medication so maybe I felt the stupid infected tooth was something I could at least have control over!! Hah. I don't know.

I really hope you're able to move forward. I truly think the constant worry and emotional distress is worse than any treatment... And the feeling of relief is so immense afterwards... Many people on here say the same, some of them have had all their teeth removed, I think they're incredible! Keep me updated on what happens and I wish you the best <hugs>