• Dental Phobia Support

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Junior member
Oct 26, 2021
I've never posted to a forum before, so hopefully I'm doing this right as it is my intention to share as much as I possibly can about my experience today. I'd like to say a general warning here for the most sensitive of dentalphobes: I discuss some nitty-gritty personal stories, and in general am talking about oral surgery so please don't read on unprepared if you're extremely sensitive. Overall, I'm extremely optimistic. This post will also be rather long, as I'm known to be longwinded, and also because those types of posts gave me the most immersive escape when I was in the depths of my anxiety, so beware of that.

Today I got my wisdom teeth extracted -- all four, with general anesthesia (or so they told me; more on that later).

Before I begin, I want to share a little bit of background on myself. I'm twenty-four years old, and socially unconventional in many ways, the most significant here being that my anxiety for the majority of my life has been so severe that upon recent reflection, I've been having simply awful panic attacks since childhood. On top of that, relating specifically to dentistry, I've had some of the crummiest dentists imaginable, mostly during my childhood.

I'm talking fillings that were most likely unnecessary, and beyond the things that I struggle to debate due to my own lack of professional knowledge on the matter, straight up ripping off parts of my gums with no numbing, no warning, and no apology. I have a visible scar on my front teeth from this, and sometimes dentists ask if I had braces. Yes, I did (and of course, the orthodontist was an ogre as well, for other reasons), but that scar that forever marks me was a stupid and rather brutal mistake that was brushed under a rug and never acknowledged. Even at regular cleanings, now in my adulthood, I often have the misfortune of getting a tech that thinks my gums should be immune to a metal hook blatantly grazing across their every centimeter until I'm left using a saline wash for days. Sorry if this is brutal to read for those of you who can relate, but I think it's only appropriate to share some of my worst stories from my past and present to establish some personal stories.

One more story that's particularly relevant to today: I remember clearly when I was about maybe eight or nine years old; my mom shared with me that most every gets wisdom teeth, and most everyone must get them removed. Immediately my heart plummeted down through me to the car seat, and since that day, the mere thought of the necessary extraction was enough to make me get those horrible pre-panic sweats and chills and knot in my stomach. Note, my anxiety has been bad enough for me to nearly panic over just going to the movies, or over the prospect of seeing friends. Those are all good things, so imagine how I felt during the bad.

Anyway, once I was a teen, two different dentists, different practices and all, told me that I wouldn't need to get my wisdom teeth extracted. They said I had room, and it was no problem. I remember how they both shrugged, and dismissed the subject quickly (all the while, I had avoided asking the dentists about the state of my teeth because I preferred to ignore the issue altogether).

Life moved on, and through the years my many friends got their extractions done. I was morbidly obsessed with the stories they'd share with me. I collected them, and recited them over and over in my mind. It was like all of my horror would make me become obsessed, and that continued to be a theme for a long time with me.

Flash forward to about a year ago, and my latest dentist rolled up during one of my cleanings to inform me that I had an impacted tooth and that it was never coming in, and that I must get it removed before it "causes some real damage to the other teeth." At that point, I'd already grown in my top two with increasing pleasure, thinking they'd all continue coming in one at a time, and I'd live happily ever after, with boasting rights on how I never needed to face such a horrible thing unlike most everyone else in the world.

I refused to accept what she said. Her office setup is just so that I was unable to see my x-rays behind the dental chair, so I had even more reason to delude myself. The point of the back right third molar had already begun erupting, and I was just encouraging it along, teething on a special-bought chewthpick. Six months or more later, in a sudden moment of clarity, I accepted that it was, indeed, rather crooked, and couldn't possibly grow in correctly.

That moment of clarity was immediately followed by my entire life dissolving into panic. For at least two months, I went into complete conniptions like some Victorian who'd tied her layers of dress with a little too much gusto (I'm able to kid about it now, so please allow me to; I don't belittle the real reasons for the fear itself, but this issue has controlled my life to an extreme degree).

Blessed be my mother, who, once I found an oral surgeon by some miracle less than 5 minutes from our house, called and scheduled a consultation for me. She helped keep me in the dark about the date, which I absolutely needed. I lived every day for at least one of my two months of panic thinking that it would be any day now.

When I say it was months of panic...I insist on clarifying, so that others like me don't feel alone, or even insane or ridiculous like I'd felt. Anxiety isn't irrational, and our phobias as well are based in things that our minds see as very real, even as we try to break them down and combat them. I promise you, you're not the only one who's been through this.

Some things I experienced were: sudden, complete insomnia, which I don't ever deal with, even during previous bouts of constant panic; inability to eat, and the ensuing weightloss (I always have struggled with this); a complete and total loss of my mind to the OBSESSION of oral surgery, of compulsive googling, envisioning myself in every step of the process, and even fearing the recovery perhaps more than the surgery itself.

I need to tell you something now. If you haven't begun the process at all, but want to: that's already a huge step. One of the biggest changes for me came from the realization that I didn't want to turn twenty-four and have this still hanging over my head; something many of my peers had done as teens, and never thought about again. Something my entire family had had done, and never thought about again. I realized that I was the one that started this process, and I wanted it. I needed it, between my future dental health, and for me to know that I can come out the other side of a huge, month-long anxiety attack (and intermittently sprinkled panic attacks) with a VICTORY.

A victory is so important, and I wanted to wear it like a badge of honor. I wanted to someday be able to lay in bed at night, fully healed, and remember: I did that. I did that and here I am now, in the future, benefiting from it.

(EDIT: I hit post before I finished!!)

Anyway -- I need you to know that I found ways to stop being afraid before the surgery actually arrived. I intend to share those facts with you here, after I share with you the details of how my operation went, so that those of you who haven't yet been through it, and need to (or want to) can have it as a come-down.

The surgery, truly, was nothing. As I said before, this was my lifelong phobia, and even though I found a way to combat the HUGE majority of my anxiety, I still was almost certain I wouldn't survive this.

They were going to use the typical general anesthetic, putting me to sleep, as they extracted all four of my third molars. Long ago, likely as a misdiagnosis, I was told I had some sort of heart condition that I blocked from memory, but as we know, anxiety isn't logical, so I didn't mention it (the condition was one that I was supposed to outgrow and that was supposedly common, anyway). I know how insane that sounds, but I couldn't go into this knowing that I'd be hearing all the sounds and smelling all the smells or whatever -- yes, I had spent a long time reading the horror stories prior to this. I'm sure most of us have. For some reason they're much easier to find than the good ones. More on that later.

I arrived at 8pm, as the second surgery of the day. I can't take pills (I've never succeeded in swallowing any, and as I said, my anxiety has ruled me for a long time) so rather than being perscribed a Valium, I took some liquid hydroxyzine that I had been prescribed earlier by a doctor during the worst of my conniptions. I'd also taken zofran because I have a history of nausea immediately causing an anxiety mindset. Don't be afraid to ask for a valium. Something that comforted me before the appointment was knowing that I'd be calm on the day-of, even if I wasn't calm now.

They took me back, and there were two of those people whos title I'm not sure of (tech? nurse?), and set me up with some little monitors and a blood pressure cuff. I mostly just stared out the window or at the ceiling. Eventually they left me alone, and eventually more people came into the room and sort of surrounded me. They gave me a plastic apron and a hairnet, and I joked that this was the real thing.

When I saw the doctor again, he already had been informed by me of my anxiety disorder, so he was sure to walk me through everything. Since I'd secretly conquered my phobia already, I was mentally at a perfectly balanced 0, but my heart monitor was snitching on the adrenaline in my system.

I personally dislike having needles in my elbow, and asked if he could check if the veins in my hand were any good. He checked both locations for a long time, and I told him he could do whatever was best either way, and when he said the elbow was a little better, I just nodded and accepted it. He then put some sort of square frame over the area, and narrated while he swabbed around with an alcohol cotton pad, and then used the freezing spray he'd previously told me about.

I've had my blood drawn lots of times, without any sort of numbing, and it's not something I'm scared of, but I DO get vasovagal syncope a good amount of times when dealing with needles. I guess it's just the shock. Luckily this time I was laying down already, and a grimace got me through the yucky sensation of the needle. I've got nerves on my nerves, so I could still sort of feel it, but honestly it's nothing. It's just nothing. One fleeting moment of the many billions I've lived in my young life.

I don't know why it took a while, but he told me it seemed good and they got blood pushback and all that, so the vein was likely to take the sedative well. Then one of the nurses put the block in my mouth, saying it was to hold my mouth open (for those who are curious, it was a rubbery yellow thing. I didn't note any flavor, and it was only uncomfortable because not only do I have TMJ but I've also had a bad bout of it the past few days. No pain, but one of those hyper-sensitive things I noticed and figured I'd share.)

One of the other people in the room began covering up my face, which I actually found to be immensely comforting. I always thought I'd hate not being aware, but I actually just felt like one of those falcons being transported, or a horse with blinders. I couldn't see anything I could fear. She said it was to shield me from the light; it was some kind of a cloth, and I could see small glimses of light through the weave.

Now, this is the part that confuses me for many reasons. I never actually went unconscious. I'd read plenty of times about the timeskip effect of this type of sedation; you're awake, then suddenly you're awake again and you're done, and how did that happen?

I was mostly conscious through the ordeal. The doctor had asked me to share whether I felt the medication burning, which it didnt... But there was never a fade-out. He had told me in the consultation that it would be, so I kept politely raising a finger to indicate that I was still awake. Mind you, I was very relaxed. I wasn't even a little scared. But I did end up hearing some of the sounds that I was certain would traumatize me (they didnt; its been a few hours and it's already become a funny story). Someone was in charge of supporting my jaw from behind the edge of it below my ear, and of turning my head left and right, etc, while someone else did the numbing shots and all the other stuff.

Time did pass quickly, and I believe I did fall asleep at one point, so that was fine. It only took them half an hour to finish me off, with two erupted teeth and two impacted (one erupted, one not at all). At some point I heard them say they needed to do something, and then I felt them take my hand and add another IV. I don't know if I went out completely after that, because I do remember more sounds, but I'd say my experience is likely comparable to those who undergo oral surgery with nitrous or with that type of IV sedation that isn't a total KO.

Next thing I remember clearly was one or two women talking to me as they lifted me to my feet for the recovery room, and then laying me down and telling me to try to stay awake. I was pretty out of it for sure at that point. I was so aware of myself and my surroundings, and I kept trying to laugh at how funny it was that I was still me, just a little delirious. I don't do drugs and my body cannot handle alcohol, but I could say it was a similar feeling to the one time I got a good buzzed feeling going, only more intensely. I thought I might cry from joy to be alive, but I'd never fallen asleep so completely as to feel that way at all. I was just fine.

They brought in my mom, who helped walk me to the car. I was talking in a funny little voice, and then i plopped in the car seat, and wrote a whole essay in my notepad that, in my sober state, is almost completely illegible.

I sat on the couch at home, and kind-of-sort-of dozed off while Seinfeld blasted in the background. My beloved cat of thirteen healthy years, with some unhealthy moments between, was absolutely certain that someting had happened. He smelled me and had such recognition in his eyes, which my out-of-mind self found so endlessly entertaining.

I was never out of myself to the point that I'd say anything I didn't mean to. Also, that had been another fear of mine, that I'd lost so much weight from anxiety (which hit right after losing weight from travel, no less) that the drugs would take me over completely. They did not. Especially not with dehydrated veins, LOL.

I will have to add more to this post later, because I'm juggling medications and meals. Feel free to ask any of those morbid questions that buzz around your brain and leave you with no time for respite. Before I go for now, I'll say I'm in absolutely no pain. My jaw was already a little sore, and I live with that low level of pain on a regular basis so this is nothing new at all to me. I haven't explored my mouth with my tongue and I don't intend to. The bleeding was also very shortlived (and also, I got stitches in the bottom two and nothing in the tops).

I'll be sure to reply to this post with more information once I have some more time to myself.

I wish you the absolute calmest of moments, and send you my full, sincere encouragement.
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[EDIT: i ran out of time to edit the original post, but i wrote "anxiety isnt irrational" when I meant to say IT IS! LOL! I didn't proofread before sending either of these, and its definitely obvious. Sorry about that. All the same, I hope these are useful to you.]

Alright, I've eaten, and this reply will focus on the mental health facts that I want to pass along. For those who care, I've only been taking OTC tylenol for pain, and I feel nothing painful at all. The numbness subsided pretty quickly and it wasn't uncomfortable at all (only unfamiliar, though I've been numbed a handful of times). I never struggled to breathe as I've seen some rare few describe (I was very scared of that possibility once I'd read that... -_- sorry if you hadn't read it, but don't worry.). The only pain I feel at all is the tenderness of the stitches, but it's a very shallow pain. I've never had stitches before, but this feels at about the same level as, say, the day after biting a tortilla chip wrong and scratching your gum annoyingly bad. Nowhere near screaming-and-crying levels, just something I'm aware of. There's no more bleeding unless I move my mouth too much or anything either.

Now, onto the tips I wanted to share:

I mentioned before that I've dealt with severe anxiety all my life. When I simply accepted the fact that I needed at least one tooth out, I almost immediately started spiraling into a panic mindset. I need you to understand the degree to which I'd been suffering from this phobia not only forever, but especially recently.

Listed and discussed below are the many, many steps I took to move onto calmness.

Firstly, I did something I can only think to call mirror therapy. I'd been doubled over, shallow-breaths, and stuck with tunnel vision as I fought the endlessly obsessive and cyclical thoughts (thoughts of fear, unknown, and feeling like I'd have to deal with everything at once). It was sort of like mindfulness; I was about to take a shower, and I turned toward the countertop mirror. I'm the type to not look in a mirror for days, just out of forgetfulness, but when I saw myself looking like a wretched beast, I forced myself to righten my posture, and stretch my limbs in every direction possible. Something about seeing the movement of the form made it better than a regular stretch. I mentally noted parts of myself and how they moved, and this made me slowly become aware of how my mouth is such a tiny, tiny part of my body, and the teeth within it, even smaller.

I understand people with dysphoria/dysmorphia may not be as able to do this one, but if you can even start with your hands, or your legs and feet, or any part of yourself that you're able to see without a mirror and move, or touch, and describe the sensations to yourself (for me, out loud in a whisper narrative helped best, because it forced me to use a part of my brain that wasn't obsessed with the phobia), it will help as well, I'm sure.

In part with this, I advise you to try shifting your consciousness/focus to different parts of your body. Pay attention to your scalp, or your fingertips, nailbeds, toes, knees, etc, with or without touching them to create a sensation. Just think about and appreciate all the other parts of your body that aren't your teeth.

Mindfulness is something I always thought was crap, for some reason. I guess the lesson comes when the student is ready, and in fact I'm sure if anyone told me the things I'm writing here when I was at any other previous stage in my life, I would have shut it out and preferred to dwell in the endless terror.

There's something very beautiful, and very powerful about accepting what you cannot change, and acknowledging that you don't need to think about "that" right now. Eg, right now I'm on the couch, right now I'm in bed, etc. This was especially useful for me when I kept dwelling on the fear of what could go wrong during recovery, after I'd "gotten over" my fear of the general anesthesia. Before I could even get to that point, I had to accept that I don't need to know what happens during the operation; I learned to trust these strangers, these professionals, and if I was ever going to dwell on that aspect again, it would be exclusively through thinking how to them, this was just another day at work. One of the several operations they'd be doing even that day. They're calm and confident with bountiful reason, and it would only be right and respectful of me to accept that they know what they're doing well enough that it is absolutely useless to keep pursuing knowledge on my phobia (compulsive googling/researching).

Don't get me wrong; preparedness is a good thing, most certainly. I've been through just about every consarned forum relating to wisdom teeth surgery that exists. I've seen the forums of people that somehow got such a negligent surgeon that they didn't give them ANY post-op directions, and they unfortunately had to pay painful consequences. It's good to have a baseline knowledge on what you may need to do, but it's not a good thing to be like I was, and look up down to the molecule how sedation works, and all the possible risks.

As I'm sure many people have said before, the horror stories you see online are only so plentiful because those are the only people who bothered or felt inclined to share. There's about six-bazillion people who, like my brother, my mother, my father, and all of my friends, who went in not caring, and who left not caring. Some of my friends, and even my cats, became my heroes through this for that very reason; some of them were excited to have such a strange new experience in their repertoire, and others shrugged off the story as though it wasn't anything to fear at all (an indeed, it wasnt, I now can agree!). And as for my cats, without knowing a blasted thing, they've both gone through at least one operation each, fully sedated, and recovered just fine despite me having to trap them just to give them their medications (whenever necessary). (Also, this was my first surgical experience; I know that isn't the case for many of you, but a great portion of people experience their first surgery through wisdom teeth extraction.)

Basically, my biggest advice is to let yourself cross bridges when you get to them. Don't wish away moments of your life that you absolutely don't have to. No, it won't be as fun as going to the arcade, or as sleeping in on your day off, or as going to the county fair, but life is only enhanced by these moments. Think about that badge of honor you'll have on the other side, and about how you can pass on your wisdom to others someday.

Give yourself tasks to complete in the meantime; force yourself to serve others, even if only by making their morning coffee, and then returning to your dent in the couch to just try to breathe through your emotions. Narrate yourself as you do these tasks; I became to afraid to shower very often, and I found that forcing myself to describe everything I was doing helped me through it ("I'm picking up the shampoo bottle, I'm pouring some shampoo in my hand, I'm sudsing my hair. Now I'm admiring the droplets on the shower wall.")

Another thing I want to pass along is that if you're afraid, you should absolutely confide that to your surgeon. I wasn't even anxious as I lay on the chair, but his composure was still wonderful all the while. If you find a surgeon worth your time, they can likely prescribe you a valium. I myself actually went to at least two consultations as a teenager, deciding ultimately that I hated them (because I was scared). I was willing to try someone else if I didn't like this one, though I was desperate to put it behind me. Luckily he was good, and I truly hope that you can find someone good too. They've no doubt dealt with more difficult patients than someone who expresses anxiety, and if you need a drug just to enter that building on the day-of, then by all means, take it! Sometimes you need that extra kick! There's no shame in that. It's the miracle of modern medicine; same with all forms of sedation. If you're afraid of them, consider changing perspectives and admiring the multitude of options available in modern medicine, if you do have those options in your country or area.

There are so many life events that we can't fathom coming through the other side of. For me, through my life, I couldn't picture walking the stage in front of my graduating class in high school. Now, I can't even remember it. I couldn't imagine graduating at all, in fact. It all just felt impossible. Seven years later, that mountain I had to climb, that I deeply dreaded, isn't even a blip on my radar. Just relax, pull the wool over your own eyes, be mindful of the present.

In conclusion, I truly hope none of this sounds overly simplistic or patronizing. I'm offering you the best tools that I've added to my kit during the last few months. By dedicating myself to such small, simple concepts, I went from being unable to sleep more than 15 minutes at a time on a good day, or not sleeping for three or more days straight, losing weight, and being barely able to breathe or function at all from the absolute nightmarish horror that I'd allowed my phobia to make me feel -- to feeling absolutely fine. My last month prior to surgery, I bought myself things I'd been needing for a while. I bought myself a couple of plushies on a whim (anyone like Garfield?). I celebrated three birthdays in my household, including my own. I went on small trips to nearby historic towns (I love history!). Sometimes, I could barely see for the constriction my anxiety was placing upon my mind. i could barely breathe, other times. But I still smiled and told my companions that I'd had a wonderful day; I'm sure those will be some of my fondest memories, now.

I'm so proud of myself. When I can run through the halls again, I just amy, because for most of my life, I never thought this could be me. Some of you who read this will be older than me, and some younger. It doesn't matter. Time will keep passing, and that is a blessing, because it means that once you endure one unpleasant few hours, or days, you'll never have to do this again.

I know many have said this, but if I could do it, you can too. It didn't go as I'd imagined it to a thousand times, but that's fine! That's the beauty of life! I am so pleased with myself, I'm so glad I can puff up my chest and brag a little, even if nobody else felt the pain I did around this, and therefore doesn't give a crap (LOL!). I promise you with all my heart and soul, even if it's not easy, it will come, and it will go, and you'll be standing right here beside me, across the finish line.
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One day postop update:

Just after the surgery, my mom gave me an aloe vera compress for my cheeks, which I cant recommend enough. I'll talk about how to do that in another reply since I'm not sure if it would go against a rule to discuss and I wouldn't want this message taken down or something. As a result of the compress, I never experienced any swelling whatsoever, which means I didn't need to use any icepacks at all either (which I'm glad for, because it's getting chilly here).

I was not given any special prescription pain killers, and have only taken liquid tylenol thus far. This morning I could tell my last dose had mostly worn off, and the pain was about maybe 2/10, which was mostly due to the tenderness of the sutures in the bottom teeth.

The bleeding for me stopped pretty quickly (by the way, research foods with vitamin K, as this helps your body form clots! I love cauliflower and eat it often, but also remember your body doesn't store it very well so I'd advise eating something high in K vitamin as your last meal the night before :) ). I'd say I stopped needing any gauze within an hour tops after the surgery. Today I took a shower and let myself drool a little, and I'd accidentally twitched a weird muscle earlier that made a tiny bit more blood form but I wasn't worried.

I don't plan on looking at the wounds at all, because through this journey I've discovered that ignorance is bliss, so unless I feel significant pain, I won't worry about anything.

Basically I'm doing really well! I'll keep taking tylenol since they always say the third day is the worst, but since I wont be experiencing any swelling, I'll be fine! I'd say the IV spot is more uncomfortable for me, but that's just my personal squeamishness at being poked in my inner elbow.

Oh yeah, one last thing: The doctor called in the evening to see how I was doing, and I asked him about why I didn't seem to fully go under the anesthesia. He said he suspected it was just that my veins were a little too small (dehydration from no water etc), and I asked if it could also have been due to my tension (despite being mentally calm from my general mindset and my small dose of hydroxizine, my pulse was through the roof). He said that the high heartrate can also cause your body to metabolize the sedative faster. He explained that when I indicated that I was still awake, he gave me a second IV, and that eventually I started snoring... LOL!! Either way, it was a great experience and I'm actually kind of glad I was awake, as it sort of gave me a taste of any possible future experiences I may have (like if I ever need a root canal... hopefully I won't, but at least now I know its not that scary compared to what I was imagining!)

That's about all I can think to say! The doc didnt say when I can start brushing but most websites say right around now I could, so I look forward to that. I was only given a mouthwash to use in the evenings, and not even told to rinse after eating... so let's see how this goes!
Ok, so now let me tell you about the compress. This is a tradition through my moms half of the family, which has served us all very well. Quite frankly, I can't believe it's not common knowledge. I wouldn't say this is medical advice or anything, as it's simply leaving a plant on your cheek for a while. If you've never dealt with this plant before, I recommend doing a spot test with an aloe gel or something first (like the stuff they sell to massage into sun burns), just to make sure you aren't allergic or anything. And as for buying the leaf, I'd say look for the variety that has no white spots, and rather is a solid green color.

Basically, go to a mexican/hispanic market, or see if your nearest walmart has any nice, broad, good looking aloe vera leaves. Since it's edible, it can be found amongst the vegetables. You'll probably only need one full leaf, if theyre big enough. The one we got is about 5 or 6 inches wide at the base (which is the widest part), and maybe a foot and a half long.

My mom took care of preparing this for me when I was still loopy when we first got home, but I think if you did this prep the morning of, if you have a few hours beforehand (like me, where I pulled an all-nighter, lol) it'll be just as good.

Cut the leaf in half lengthwise, then take the half you want on your face and cut off the spiked edges. Cut it again through the core, like how youd open a book, exposing the gel from the inside. You dont need to remove the skin or anything. Over a medium/low heat, cook the gel part for about a minute. The goal isn't to roast it or change its color, just to seal in the gel and I'd guess to activate it. If nothing else, it definitely makes it neater, lol. The raw gel is a lot gooeier.

Since most doctors warn against using any frozen or hot compresses too soon after surgery, I would suggest you let the plant cool to room temp before applying it. It cools fairly quickly. To use it, just put it in something that can function as a chin strap that'll hold it to your cheeks for a while. Usually about 4-6 hours will be plenty of time. It will eliminate any swelling before it has a chance to develop, and throughout my family's experience, it makes recovery much easier. (DO NOT put it inside your mouth. Put it outside your cheeks parallel to where the molars (or any other teeth you may have had extracted) were pulled).

Since I had pretty simple extractions, this means for me that I am already done with the big majority of the pain element of recovery. For others, it'll probably not eliminate the rest of the pain or discomfort, but I hope it'll help.

Aloe vera has proven to aid in lots of problems like sunburn, or even arthritis, so it's safe to use so long as you're not allergic. I truly hope its alright to share this here and that it wont be taken down, because I've seen so many of my friends not use anything and deal with swelling, whereas when I watched my older brother's recovery, he was completely fine in less than a few days. Since I can't be certain if this is wrong to share here, apologies in advance, lol. It's a very common plant/herb to see used in skincare products, it's edible, and it's even sold as a juice. It doesn't need to be reheated or anything once applied to the surface of your face. Take care!!
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No real updates today, but I did another aloe compress and wanted to amend the recipe I previously put as I was wrong about the cook time. It should be cooked on both sides (goop side and skin side) until it is thoroughly cooked, which will not change its color (it may become more opaque though). My mom scored the gel with a knife in order to speed the process, as well. Less cook time will be required for the slender tip of the leaf, and more for the thicker, broader bottom portion.

I also want to add that either the tiredness of healing, or the remainder of the anesthetic from surgery put me in a somewhat bad mood. Most noticeably, I was weepy. Anyone else out there who's prone to mood related conditions (depression or anxiety or what have you) definitely be mindful that the anesthetic can leave you feeling off for a while, to what degree depends entierly on your body. It also seems to still be messing with my short term memory, though I wonder how much of that is also due to the general tiredness. The worst of it is just forgetting where I just put something, or a conversation from a few hours ago. Nothing severe, just irritating. Still no regrets, of course. I expect it'll clear up along with the rest of my healing.
It is now the sixth day since surgery! Happy Halloween!

I decided to make another addition to this post today. I doubt I'll have many, if any, more updates. I also recently read back on the original post I made, and it's pretty funny to read all my writing/typing mistakes. I can now recognize that I was still pretty out of it when I posted it. Hopefully it's still of value to others. :toofunny:

Last night as I was watching tv, I was able to easily laugh and smile for an extended time with absolutely minimal discomfort. I haven't needed any painkillers for my extraction sights, but I've taken some anyway for other pains I had that are unrelated.

I wanted to go through and dismiss some other fears I remembered having while I can remember them, as well, in case I didn't acknowledge them for someone else who's like me in their worries.

1. I was scared of recovery, because I have a strong habit of keeping quite strong suction in my closed mouth through the day, and I thought I wouldn't be able to stop it while I was sleeping or even while I was awake, and I worried I'd harm my clots. Well, fear not. This hasn't been an issue at all. Despite not being in much (if any) pain, my subconscious seems to have caught on that I shouldn't be doing any of that suction business right now. I've only done it by mistake while waking up maybe once or twice, and it felt "off" enough that even in my sleepy delirium, I let go immediately. There were no lasting consequences whatsoever.

2. Pretty much the same as above, but for spitting. As weird as it sounds, I find comfort in spitting once in a while. I was terrified that I'd do it by accident at some point, but I haven't. When I need to, I just kind of roll my tongue over my palate with my mouth open and it discharges whatever is necessary. Even while brushing my teeth, I'm never anywhere near the point of having my usual habits of swishing and spitting taking over or anything. I find myself very present, and highly unlikely to make any such mistake.

3. I was scared that I'd have this big gaping "void" feeling in my head, or that I'd be horribly aware of the missing teeth. I did used to quite enjoy chewing with my two fully erupted teeth. I can assure you, the only thing I feel is RELIEF. I cannot emphasize how wonderful my jaw feels! I knew I had some level of constant discomfort from at least one of my teeth (the partially erupted one), and the other side I just assumed was discomfort from TMJ. It was literally all just pressure from the impacted teeth. Despite the entirely un-erupted one needing a more surgical extraction, it feels SO MUCH BETTER NOW! I still have some slight clicking in my jaw on my trouble side, but the actual pain hasn't been this mild for years, most likely because of the fact that my wisdom teeth have been working hard to try to come in for all that time.

I had seen a few oral surgeons for consultation in the past, and at one point I asked if having the teeth out would help with my TMJ. One of them outright said "NO, it would probably make it worse." (he probably meant during the recovery period, but still), so I never scheduled my surgery and intended to just keep them forever, because lord knows I didn't need WORSE pain. However, one of my friends told me that she had quite bad TMJ as well prior to her extractions, and that it went away almost entierly after she had hers out. I believed her more than the random surgeon, especially because I figured there was some level of miscommunication there. I'm glad I went through with it all the more now, because the amount of constant, dull ache, and the cracking, and the inability to find relief was taking quite a toll on my daily life in terms of comfort and what I could muster up the energy to eat.

Most sources online, even as I looked this up again last night, seem to take one stance or the other -- that it'll make the TMJ better, or do nothing (or make it "worse"). I guess it's case by case, but if there's a chance you can decrease that pain by getting your teeth out, I'd encourage you to go for it.

4. I've also had no trouble with chewing as the days go by. I had this other fear that I'd be disgusted by food in the sockets or something, but at most I'm just aware of when something gets "lost" back there. The solution is extremely simple -- I just keep a glass of water with me, and when I sip intermittently between bites, I just roll my head around a little to allow the water to relocate the food. After I eat, I'm sure to rinse a good few times again (very gently of course). It's quite honestly a non-issue.

I've also recovered at least 98% of my usual memory after the anesthetic by now. I feel completely like myself again. My mood is almost exactly as it was prior to surgery (in terms of my emotional stability, and not being weepy lol). I expect I'll keep getting better once I no longer feel the need to take midday naps :off-to-bed:

If I think of anything else worth adding, I'll definitely come by and add it. Going to the dentist will probably always give me a kick of adrenaline, but I think no matter what, I'm better for having done this, in terms of emotional maturity and self-discipline. Physically, and health-wise, I KNOW this was the absolute best thing I could have done for myself. I feel so much better now, and I know as I recover it'll only get easier and more comfortable.

I wish you the absolute best of luck in surgery and/or recovery!
It’s been over a month since surgery, and I have more wonderful news to share with you all!

First of all, to get to the point, my TMJ symptoms are about 99% GONE. That’s ALL of them.

When I was younger, I went to one or two surgeons for consultation and I distinctly remember one telling me that the symptoms would become worse, and he offered me no nuance, nor any sort of reassurance. My TMJ was already quite uncomfortable when I was a late teen, so I felt that making it worse was the last thing I’d ever want to do.

Luckily, he was just ignorant. I suspect I may have already written about this in a prior response but alas I’m too lazy to double check. In any case, I wanted to say that now, after full and complete recovery (aside from the sockets that are still filling in very nicely), my jaw discomfort is seriously almost completely gone.

Prior to surgery, if I talked for more than a couple of sentences, I’d start to have tension build in my jaw, both on top and bottom. It wasn’t so uncomfortable that I’d have to immediately stop talking or anything, but I’d feel the ache for about an hour or more afterward, even up to the bone structure of my nose. My teeth weren’t even so severely impacted, either, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned more than once already. I had thought all along that my upper teeth that had grown on were not my enemy, but upon seeing the extracted remains (which I kept), they, too, were curled and pushed up against what I assume was the skull, and that means that it would be a constant, endless pressure. And it was!

I have had no more tension while talking, no more cracking every time I gently thrust my jaw forward, no more feeling that my jaw will nearly lock any time I’m eating something firm...I haven’t tried eating any big sandwiches lately, but I’m sure they’d be no issue, which is something I can’t say was true before.

The last bit of experience I wanted to share is that I had dissolvable stitches that did not even pretend they were going to dissolve. Right off the bat, I can say this wasn’t a horrible experience at all.

At first, it was irritating to have stitches that felt like they were slightly limiting my cheek mobility, but the worst of that was when my entire mouth was pretty stiff post-surgery, anyway. As the days went on and I was able to eat more and move more, the stitches gradually loosened.

They said they can take up to something like seven weeks to dissolve, and it’s entirely fine to simply wait and maybe even avoid another trip to the surgeon altogether, but I felt very comfortable at my surgeons office, and I’ve got a zest for life now that I’ve conquered my phobia, so I decided to just get them out. My main reasoning was simply because the knot ends were long enough to move and touch my gums and it felt like if I’d failed to clean something out while brushing at night sometimes. Overall I didn’t think of it often, but it had been about 5 weeks since my surgery when I went back to get them removed.

In a way, I’m grateful to have the full range of experiences, so that I can share them with anyone on this forum that needs to hear it someday.

When I went to the surgeon, it was per appointment as was expected. I went in the afternoon and waited a few minutes to go back. A technician (idk the names, maybe a surgeons assistant? I’d met her before and I’m pretty sure she was present during my operation) took me to one of the rooms and had me sit. I told her about how my TMJ was gone, and about the crummy other surgeon I’d been to before who made me fear my TMJ worseNing, as I wrote here. After our chat, she leaned me back, and began to remove them.

In the following paragraph I will disclose my experience, so if you’d like to skip it, it won’t be too long. I’ll enclose it in brackets for anyone who wants to skip over it.

[She had a pair of “scissors” that were clearly designed to fit in the oral cavity and cause no harm or damage, as well as some type of tweezer device. She shined the light in my mouth and eventually rested the tools on my chest so she could reach them quickly. She told me that the stitches hadn’t begun dissolving at all, which is a matter of body chemistry; I don’t drink anything but water and sometimes milk, and I eat a very bland/plain diet, so it didn’t really surprise me that I’m not a particularly acidic person. ? As for how it felt, at worst it felt like biting a chip in the wrong way. I get vasovagal syncope sometimes, as I may have mentioned before, so I felt a little burning squeamishness when she couldn’t quite reach one of the stitches, but in the end it came out VERY easily. Afterwards, I just felt a little bit sore, again as though I’d just bitten a chip wrong an hour ago. Really completely inconsequential. She warned me that I may ooze, and said the stitches had formed plaque, but there were no issues. I don’t even think my gums oozed at all. I tried to avoid any sugar for the rest of the day just by my own decision so that everything would neatly heal up without trouble. By the next hour or two I felt perfectly fine again and was overjoyed that I was even more “officially done” with the whole process.]

Ok that’s all for the stitch discussion. The last thing I have to share is just that the sockets have been no trouble for me at all, granted I only had two in the top to deal with since they somehow hid my bottom ones. It’s nice to be able to brush the backs of my molars. I never got any infection or anything. Just overall, my experiences and healing have been entirely ordinary, interspersed with odd and unique moments (like not falling asleep and not dissolving the stitches on my own). It worked out great because my experiences are so rounded out I can be there for everyone else who may need the debriefing in the future.

I really doubt I’ll ever need to come back here, so I’ll be signing off now... thank you to all who came before me and told their experiences. Good luck to everyone following in the footsteps of those of us who have crossed the line.

I believe in you. You can do this. I wish you so much luck, and so much joy in the outcome. ☺️❤️?????

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Jodie Nelson