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It’s been three days plus a bit since I had a tooth removed. The pain, which lessens each day, is annoying, but tolerable, even without painkillers. Most of it seems to be emanating from where the dentist shot me up with Novocaine in my upper jaw and the area that was used as leverage on my lower jaw. (The tooth was removed from my upper jaw.)

This whole healing thing is a bit freaky because the dentist, dentist’s assistant, and the after-care instructions all stress that the patient MUST NOT accidentally dislodge the scab that forms over the extraction site. If this happens, it will lead to dry socket, which is apparently excruciatingly painful. As if I’m not dealing with enough pain already. (I told you it was annoying, right? Annoying to the point of general crankiness.)

While I’m not supposed to accidentally dislodge the scab, which means no sucking through a straw, no spitting, no heavy lifting, and no hard sneezes (try controlling that!), I’m also supposed to brush my teeth regularly (3 times a day) and rinse with salt water 4 t0 5 times a day. But NO SPITTING! So I dribble the toothpaste spittle and water out of my mouth. It’s very attractive, I’m telling you.

I’ve become obsessive about the scab in my mouth, to the point that I keep peering at it using two mirrors and a flashlight. I assumed it would look like a traditional red scab, but yesterday evening I saw a white, pussy-looking film over the top of the hole. I don’t know about you, but white, pussy-looking film says infection to me, so I was suspicious. Was this an infection? If so, why didn’t I have a fever or more pain? What was that scab supposed to look like anyway?

As it was after-hours for the dentist, I decided to go online and see if I could find pictures of a proper tooth extraction scab. There aren’t a ton of pics of this sort of thing online, as you can well imagine, but I did find one brave soul who posted daily shots of the healing process at her tooth extraction site. Sheila at Ma Vie Folle put my mind at ease. That white film? Apparently it’s normal, and the Atlanta Dental Group’s website confirms this. It’s the beginning of the scab, which will help the tooth socket to fill in first with “woven bone,” a lower quality bone. Eventually, the woven bone will be replaced with regular bone. This process can take up to six months. (All that bone info is from the Atlanta Dental Group’s website, as well.)

Picturing my body weaving bone makes the pain easier to bear. I mean, jeez! My body’s building bone, here! That’s some serious cellular heavy lifting.

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