Lifestyle Blog: My Experience with NHS Waiting Times & Wisdom Teeth Extraction

In a previous post, I spoke about how I would never visit an NHS Dentist again. I will only ever go private from now on. If you have a read (here) you will discover why.

Dentists are often forgotten about when it comes to talking about the NHS. I could rant on for ages about how must stress it is to try and get a doctors appointment at my local surgery – but after discussing this on Twitter and in general life, it’s certainly no secret that doctor’s appointments are ridiculous to try and get. Especially in my case when it was a non-emergency one for a routine mole check.
Because I was told I couldn’t get an appointment that day (which I didn’t want anyway) I requested one for whenever the next availability was. They told me they could only book me in on the day the appointment was required and I’d have to call every day at 8.30am. A time when I’m actually driving to work. They then said I could ring back the following day for an appointment the next Tuesday… I asked to book said appointment on the phone that day and they said that I could not.
All in all, a very infuriating experience. To which I still have no appointment, as I simply gave up.

Doctor appointment disgruntlement aside, let’s get back to the Dentist waiting times and how my Wisdom Tooth Extraction experience has gone.

As explained in the previous post about NHS Dentist Services, I feel that it is extra important to have your teeth attended to as quickly as possible when issues arise. My dad is in the process of a claim due to negligence from his NHS Dentist and the lack of service provided there.(It’s also worth noting that if you have a query you can ask someone like Your legal friend about NHS claims)
After attending a private dentist, she instantly referred me to the hospital to have my wisdom teeth removed. As one is growing impacted and the other is already decaying due to the shape of the tooth trapping food in a concave, she recommended that the best course of action was to take them out.
The initial referral actually took place around 11 weeks ago, and I’ve been waiting around 10 weeks for the hospital appointment for the consultation. 
When I arrived for the appointment, I was surprised that I was actually seen around 10 minutes after the scheduled time. I mean, once you get a doctors appointment after the endurance test of booking one, I’ve waited anything from 30 minutes for to an hour in the surgery with appointments always running late.
The consultation was fine. I had to go for an X-Ray, then sat back down for 5 minutes, then was called in to see the doctor? (Or are they still dentists? I don’t know)….
Anyway, she explained the X-Ray and the position of the teeth, then after a conversation where I felt like I had to convince her to remove them, she decided that the extraction was the best solution. During this time she also went though the options for ‘pain avoidance’ during the procedure. I had the option of local anesthetic, sedation or general anesthetic.  
I chose sedation, as I’ve never had this before and thought it would be the best ‘in between’ option. 
She advised that the waiting time for the extraction could be another 8-12 weeks, however, I was called the very next day and booked in for the following Friday as a cancellation had come up. 

Wisdom Tooth Removal Experience

My appointment was at 2pm and pretty much as soon as I sat down at 1.55pm they called me in.

As I’ve never been in hospital for an actual procedure before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, the idea of a needle in my arm REALLY freaks me out – but that’s what I needed to have for the sedation to happen.

Sedation basically makes you kind of ignorant to what’s going on. Like you’re awake but can’t feel anything and your memory is slightly hazy.

Upon entering the room where I actually had to have the sedation done, I expressed that the bit that freaked me out was the needle in my hand and the doctor advised that I was better to just have local anesthetic and see how I go.

The nurses were all so lovely and really put me at ease about it all. I trusted them enough to go with what they were saying and within seconds I was in the chair with the local anesthetic being administered through that massive needle thing.

The pain of that was way worse than the one you get at the dentist for fillings. I could literally feel it move in and through my gum. She injected around 4 times, but after the second the pain eased. Within seconds the whole right hand side of my mouth became numb. As I couldn’t feel anything from this point I decided that I didn’t need the sedation after all.

As I needed two teeth out they said they would do one on this trip and the second at another time. They chose to remove the impacted tooth (which means it was growing sideways in to my other teeth) as this was the one which was causing most trouble. The one on the other side is just growing upwards so can wait a little longer.

I suppose the easiest way to describe the procedure is by listing the questions I had beforehand and answering them from my personal experience:

Did it hurt?

The procedure itself didn’t hurt at all. It was just the pressure and pulling feeling in and around my mouth. She had to drill several times to shorten the tooth slightly, so that she could pivot and pull it out. A bit that did actually hurt was when they were stitching it up and the other nurse accidentally stabbed my lip with the scissors when she went to cut the string… She was VERY apologetic though, so I felt quite bad for her, as it was clearly a complete accident.

How long did it take?

Because the tooth ended up being a little more troublesome than initially thought, it took around 25 minutes. There was a lot of to and fro with the drilling and apparently the knife, because the incision I’ve had to have stitched up is huge! It runs from my back tooth up and around the jawline. As the tooth wasn’t fully grown, it was a little deeper in the gum line than a fully grown one. They had to keep drilling down the tooth as it was so close to my existing teeth that there was no pivot area to pull it around and out. 

Did my face swell and hurt afterwards?

Yes. Very much.

I assumed beforehand that it wouldn’t, as I thought it would be a pretty standard procedure and a straight ‘in, out’ job. But as mentioned, it was a little more difficult to remove than I expected. As it was 2pm in the afternoon, the first evening it wasn’t too bad. In fact, I was surprised at how little swelling there was. The next day though? My cheek had doubled in size.

The pain was awful once the anesthetic wore off. A consistent pain that didn’t seem to let up. This was soothed with ibuprofen though. After day 2 my chin and lip also started to feel numb, which is apparently quite normal.

Could I eat anything but soup afterwards?

Being a food lover I did try and eat a cheese and ham toastie the same evening. It was hard going, but manageable in small bites. The same the next day when I treated myself to a Five Guys burger. Tough and slow, but totally worth it.

On the third day, the inside of my mouth had swollen up as well as my cheek though. So I realised I had to be more sensible. Now I’m on a strict diet of soup and yoghurts to ensure I don’t irritate the wound any further.

Would I do it again?

I am actually waiting for a date to have the other side out, but after this experience I think I might pass. Unless it is absolutely crucial. The reason that one needs taking out is more to do with the condition of the tooth, rather than position. I will ask my dentist the next time I go what her opinion is though, as she may recommend a filling.

With that in mind though, the remaining tooth should be easier to remove as it is growing straight, not sideways.

I wouldn’t bother booking in for sedation again and go straight for local anesthetic. As, like I say, the procedure itself wasn’t actually that bad. It was manageable pain. It’s the after effects which have hit my unexpectedly by surprise.

I’m only on day 4 at the moment of the healing process. And so far it is healing exactly how the internet is telling me it will. I’ve had to have a day off work due to the pain, as it does make it fairly difficult to sleep at night too. But this was expected apparently. Even though I said on Friday I wouldn’t need any time off!

So really, whilst there are good stories out there about wisdom tooth removal, I unfortunately cannot vouch for them! However, I did walk in fairly optimistically beforehand thinking it would be pain and fuss free.

Taking everything in to account though, the staff at the hospital were actually brilliant and the waiting times at the hospital itself were nothing to be snarked at.