What I Learned From Getting my Wisdom Teeth Out

April 04, 2012

Let me tell you a little story about my teeth.

I have 14 fillings. My mouth is made of metal, literally. While on the outside my teeth are straight and white, if you look just below the surface I have wildly soft enamel, which no matter what tender care I take of my teeth brushing and flossing, leaves me in a state of perpetual needing dental work, ASAP.

My mouth is one of those touchy issues for me, a miniature battleground for my issues around self-worth.

I had one wisdom tooth taken out a couple of years ago. I only had the money for one, at the time, and I was terrified. I went to the cheapest dentist that I could find, because I was 23 and I didn’t have any dental insurance. The process was painful. The doctor made me cry hysterically. He was rough and it hurt.

Needless to say – when my dentist told me that I needed to get the rest of my teeth out I dragged my heels.

For years.

I dragged my heels even when one of them started hurting.

I dragged my heels even when that one that was hurting made the side of my face swell up.

I told myself: someday, you’ll get them out, when it’s an opportune time, when you have dental insurance, when you have the money to pay for it.

I looked into getting them done at a dental school nearby, but I used the stories that I heard about dental work that had been done there to drag my feet some more.

Somewhere, deep down, I didn’t believe it was worth spending money on.

Somewhere, deep down, I didn’t believe that I was worth spending money on.

I was carrying a story of financial difficulty. I reenacting my core belief that it had to be hard, that it would always be like this. That paying for a nice dentist, in a nice office, was a luxury that those people could afford.

One day, I decided that I could be one of those people if I was able to change my thinking about myself.

I made a call, nervous.

I met the doctor, who was overwhelmingly handsome and deeply reassuring.  He walked me through every second of the procedure, explaining all the risks and directions. I wasn’t quite as nervous.

The woman at the desk told me how much it would be, denoting how it would be nearly $500 cheaper to just have novacane instead of general anesthesia. I felt horrible spending the money, but I was terrified to be awake during the procedure, with my body tense against the sound of the drilling and pressure of my teeth being pulled out.

I told myself that I didn’t deserve to be so afraid, just because I didn’t think I was worth spending the extra money on.

I asked for the anesthesia.

I went in yesterday morning, really afraid.

They were very nice.  They apologized for having to put the IV in my hand because my veins were so small. When I woke up they reassured me, telling me how well it went, and how well I was going to heal. They gave me ice cream, and sent me on my way.

What I learned was not that paying more money for your oral surgeon equates to a better experience, though I did learn that. I learned that when I put myself first, my needs first, and took care of myself compassionately, I healed quicker. My experience was nicer.

I felt better about myself.

When I made my needs a priority, I was able to provide myself with the things that I was putting on the back-burner.

When I made my needs a priority, I was able to find a way out of no way.  I was able to find the money.

When I made my needs a priority, other people stepped up to help take care of me, when I was vulnerable and couldn’t care for myself, and I was able to let them.

When I made my needs a priority, I was able to cross something off of my to-do list that I have been dragging around since I was 17.