“Doc, will the tooth be hard to pull?”

April 25, 2014

MANY of my patients ask me questions before I treat them which show that they’ve had some pretty negative experiences in the past. My “job” is to have you feel that “Gee, that wasn’t so bad after all” when we’re finished.

Usually, my patient tells me about a well-intended Dentist who tried his/her best. But, it turned into a 1 or 2 hour extraction. That would be pretty tough on anyone !

I am very good at what I do. With my training, and my years of experience, I should be ! And, odd for most patients to understand, my staff and I really like what we do. So, a broken down painful tooth that looks really hard is usually pretty routine to us. That means that although I’m never in a rush, the tooth (or teeth) seems to be “easy” compared to what you were expecting. I know that you don’t want me in your mouth for too long! And I really try to describe just how “hard” the tooth may be for you beforehand.

If my accurate description makes you “sweat”, then I stop and we discuss whether you wouldn’t do better if you had it removed under General Anesthesia. Many of our patients simply know that they want to “be asleep”. My Residency training in Anesthesia permits me to make that happen. I’m not going to tell you that” it’s just a little pressure” if it’s clear that you had a very negative previous extraction where the Dentist told you just that !

Often, I can see that a procedure is going to be challenging under “novocaine”. Like a set of infected Wisdom Teeth in a teenager who has had almost no “dental work” except for cleanings in his life. I’ll question to that person (and his parent) if he should be expected to put up with many “shots” , pressure, noise, etc. I once had a rugged police officer tell me that “You can break a bat on my head, no problem. But if I’m having a tooth pulled, I’m going to sleep”.

So, it’s usually not how hard the tooth is.  For me, it’s whether for YOU, what I can do pretty “slick” will be ok for you, when you’re sitting in my chair. Sharing my experience and advice, and then listening to what you think about it, is what I offer my patients, aside from my technical skill.

In closing, patients often ask me how many stitches  I put in. Since I like to close your surgical sites really nicely, I’ll often let a bit of my Brooklyn origin come through.” Quite a few, but I don’t charge by the stitch, so I didn’t count.” Then, if you really want to know, I’ll give you my best estimate. After I’ve taken off my gloves, and you know that it wasn’t that bad after all !