Any kind of surgical procedure comes with risks and potential complications. Even the most minor or routine surgery can be risky, and this includes dental work. Wisdom teeth removal is a very common, routine procedure to extract the wisdom teeth to correct problems or prevent future problems in the mouth. Typically, the benefits far outweigh the risks of this ordinary dental surgery. Sometimes, however, things go wrong and ordinary surgeries turn tragic. Naturally, people only want to read about the horror stories of a routine surgery, not the many lives that were improved by the many thousands of successful surgeries. To make things a little more emotive, we’ll tell the tale in second person.
It’s Just Pulling Teeth
You walk into the dentist’s office early in the morning one day. The sun is shining, it’s Friday, and you’re looking forward to a great weekend with friends. Aside from the minor inconvenience of having to go to the dentist to have your wisdom teeth removed, life is going pretty good. You’ve only eaten soup and yogurt for the last 12 hours and are ready to get the ordeal over with. You check in, wait a few minutes, and are taken back to the operating room. You lay down on the dentist chair in the same casual manner in which you have laid countless times since you started going to the dentist. Everything feels smooth and orderly.
The dental assistant warmly welcomes you, assures you this is a simple procedure and that you will be out for the weekend in about an hour. She makes casual banter as she prepares surgical instruments and gets you ready for the show. You chat about your plans, your recent vacation, and soon the dentist enters, smiles radiantly and greets you. She asks how you are doing, sits, pulls on some latex gloves, and calmly begins to explain the details of the procedure. She explains how they will extract the teeth and informs you that they will be using a general anesthetic to conduct the surgery. This is reassuring and you politely nod your head and agree that you are ready to begin. The dentist retracts the chair back as far as it will go until you are lying completely backward with your head nearly the same level as your feet. The dental assistant looms over you and gently places a plastic mask over your mouth and nose and sweetly asks you to breathe deeply and count to ten. You are asleep before you get to four.
Suddenly your eyes creep open; a bright light penetrates your retinas as you squint; you lower your gaze in confusion and see your mouth hanging open with surgical gauze protruding from your lower lip. You mind races; you start to panic and try to speak. You sputter something and attempt to spit the gauze out. Suddenly a figure appears over you and sticks something in your arm. You faintly feel a sharp prick, a cool liquid surge, and once again you are unconscious. Your brain is still functioning but you cannot move or even speak to tell them what is going on. There was no pain when you opened your eyes, only confusion. Confusion because you know what is happening but there is no way to communicate what is happening to you. You have to endure and hope that it will all be over soon…
Hopefully this story illustrates the importance of carefully choosing the right doctor to remove your wisdom teeth. It can be a scary procedure, but with thoughtful research and planning you won’t have an experience like this one.
By Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn writes on the benefits of wisdom teeth removal and the horrible tragedy of surgeries gone wrong for McDonough Orthodontics.