March 20, 2011
Preface The following is a description of the events as I best remember them. I have done my best to be
truthful with full disclosure. Until two days ago I had no idea there was any kind of problem other than
a little pain and numbness. To find out I have to go through everything again is very disheartening.
My Wisdom Tooth Story
Sometime mid 2010 my dentist, Dr. L, informed me that I needed to have my left wisdom tooth
removed due to decay. I eventually scheduled an appointment with Dr. S at Oral Surgery Inc (OSI) since
that is where my wife and my children had their wisdom teeth removed and the reception staff seemed
nice. I had also had a damaged saliva gland from my lip removed at OSI many years ago.
My first visit Dec 9th. I made an appointment December 9th, 2010 to have my tooth pulled without
general anesthesia. I wanted, and figured, they would use a local anesthetics, and hopefully nitrous. To
me the x-ray looked like my roots were straight and it would be an easy grab and pull so I figured I’d be
lucky to get nitrous and not just Novocain. I am not fond of the dentist and oral surgeons, or any
doctors. I showed so much anxiety to my primary physician Dr Leah, MD, before a heart catheterization
that she put me on Lorazepam, Celexa, and one or two more “happy” pills to get me through until the
catheterization was performed. Fortunately, the catheterization went well.
I arrived at OSI after taking a half day of vacation from work. I met with Dr. S for the first time and
provided him with the x-ray Dr L provided me. Dr S performed a full mouth x-ray since the x-ray I
brought was six or so months old, and suggested that I go under general anesthesia and not have it
pulled under local anesthesia. Dr. S stated he was not trying to buy a pool for his back yard or a fur coat
for his wife by putting me fully out, and that he would not charge me for the full mouth x-ray. He also
stated I must have a high tolerance for pain as the abscess was at the root. It did hurt a bit, but was not
excruciating. I continued to argue with him and said that I really wanted it pulled now without being
knocked out. I really was not looking forward to getting the tooth out and just wanted to get it over
with and did not want to spend the extra money. I had taken two Xanax prior and figured “let’s get her
done”. Dr. S said it looked like there might be an abscess (infection) and that the Novocain might not
work. At this point I decided to reschedule for the following week and prepare for general anesthesia.
He prescribed me penicillin and Vicoden.
My second Visit December 16th. My appointment was in the morning. The day prior to my
appointment I received a call from OSI and the woman was confirming my appointment and reminding
me to fast. I asked if taking a taxi would be ok to get to and from the office since it was supposed to be
icy weather the morning of December 16th and my Mother did not want to drive if it was bad out. She
said that would be fine.
So on the morning of the 16th it was icy and the taxi picked me up and took me to OSI. Before entering
the building a woman from the office stopped me before entering the building and asked if I was here
for an extraction. I said yes I was, and she went on to say that a taxi was not allowed to take me home
after the surgery. It had to be a family member or friend. So we went inside and I was able to
reschedule for later that day in the afternoon. At least I didn’t have to wait another several days. The
icy roads had cleared by noon so my Mother came to pick me up at the house and off we went to OSI.
March 20, 2011
I remember being led to the room and getting into the chair. I also remember having the nitrous mask
put on and it smelling very rubbery. The young lady putting it on, and who turned on the Nitrous asked
how it was feeling. I said, well I really wasn’t feeling much. She then found out the bottle was off in the
other room and once turned on I felt the effects. After a few minutes Dr. S came into the room. I
believe I remember him talking to me while the young lady attached an IV. I was about to be put under
and looked at my watch as I was curious how long I’d be out. Out went the lights.
When I awoke from the general anesthesia I first looked at my watch. It had been nearly an hour since I
was knocked out. I thought to myself, wow a whole hour, good thing I went for the general anesthesia.
I was surprised it took a whole hour for something that to me looked simple on the x-ray. Dr. S said we
had to go have more x-rays done to be sure we got it all out. I then asked Dr. S “So on a scale of one to
ten how bad was it” He said “what is the worst” I said “a ten”. He said it was a ten. I was kind of
surprised by that answer and thought again, good thing I was knocked out. Dr. S prescribed me 30
Percocet for the pain . I was also to return for a check up on December 23rd. I took a vacation day from
work the following Friday to have the full weekend to recover. I remember it hurt pretty well up until
our next visit. I tried not to take any Percocet on Wednesday December 22nd, but it hurt badly and by
the end of the day I gave in a started taking the Percocet again.
Third visit, Dec 23rd. On my third visit I remember only a few things and I am not as clear on this visit as
on the others. I believe Dr. S said my socket was fine. I told him I had some local pain and I even had a
sore throat on the left side. He asked me if everything was awake and if I had numbness. I told him
everything seemed awake. He went ahead and prescribed me another round of Percocet. I do
remember him asking me when I’ll be seeing Dr. L again. I told him I thought it was summer time. He
also went on to tell me that some bone splinters may appear and that that is normal. I may have
prompted him by saying my exposed jaw bone was irritating my tongue. I remember trying to figure out
why he is telling me about bone splinters coming out, or dissolving or being absorbed or something. I
thought if he did an x-ray he would know he got all the pieces so there should not be any splinters. I
also wondered why he was concerned about when I’d see Dr. L again. I figured he just did not want the
extraction site cleaned for a while. Dr. S asked if I wanted to make another follow up appointment and I
said no, let’s just see how it goes.
From December until early February I was out of town on in Muskogee, OK. I remember my tooth site
hurting pretty good, and the sore throat on the left side. I went and bought a humidifier at Walgreens
hoping that maybe it was the dry air causing my throat to hurt. I was also looking for a mirror so I could
see how my tooth site looked but could not find the right kind. I have never gotten a good look at the
side between my cheek and gum. I decided to take the rest of the Penicillin I had left from my first visit.
It seemed to make it a bit better, but I remember the hot chocolate I had every morning felt so good,
and the hot pea soup at night also felt so good. I was still only chewing solid food on my right side. I
seriously thought about finding a doctor/oral surgeon in Muskogee and went as far to look up places it
the yellow pages. I never did go, and the Penicillin seemed to help a bit. It hurt pretty well around the
tooth site and the left side of the throat most if not all of this trip. When I got back in town called for
another appointment with Dr. S.
March 20, 2011
Early February. I took some vacation time on a Thursday to go visit Dr. S again. I told him about my
throat and the local pain at the extraction site. I told him I thought I may have lost the back half of my
tooth that was in front of the tooth that was removed and that might be irritating my tongue. I made
the comment; I can’t believe I’m having so much trouble for one measly wisdom tooth. Dr. S seemed a
little agitated by this and said that no, it is not one measly wisdom tooth it is like having a bullet cut out
of my jaw. Hmmm, I guess he is right I thought. Dr. S also stated if my problems didn’t get better that
he might send me to Dr. L to have things looked at. I also said cold seemed to hurt the area and he said
that was normal since my roots from the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth were exposed. He looked
and said something like it didn’t look right when looking at the tooth socket. I tried to get more
explanation, but I couldn’t get it. I asked about my jaw bone again being exposed and he told me again
about bone splinters and bone dissolving and such. Again, I wondered why he is telling me about bone
splinters again. I thought I can’t believe we are having such a hard time communicating. I consider
myself a very good communicator yet my questions did not seem to be understood, and I was not
getting a good answer. I figured he is a doctor and sometimes they are just not on the same page as the
rest of us. He put me back on Penicillin and we scheduled another appointment for a week later. I asked
when the gums might grow over the jaw bone and we thought maybe six months or so.
Actually, the day after I left his office the throat and tooth site felt better. I wondered if it was the salt
bath he gave the site that made such a difference so quickly. I had tried the salt wash while in
Muskogee, but it seemed to not help much. Dr. S had also told me this last visit to continue the salt
baths of the site area.
Last visit, middle of February. I took some vacation again. Things felt much better. Dr. S took a look
and said things look a whole lot better. I told him I have just noticed a new tingling in my left cheek. I
told him maybe it was numb and I didn’t feel it until now and now it’s awakening. He agreed and said
that maybe since I do not shave I may have not previously noticed it being numb. I said it did not hurt,
just a tingly sensation. He said to call if I had any other problems. I said all seemed to be getting better.
I thanked him, shook his hand and thought this ordeal was pretty much behind me. He may have asked
when I was going to see Dr. L again on this visit, I’m not sure.
February to March 16th. No more bad pain at the extraction site. I’m eating on both sides of my mouth
and all seems well. There is still some pain when I push on the jawbone and there is still a small bump
on the bone. The jawbone is still exposed but my tongue is not irritated by it anymore. The tingling
cheek spot seems about the same. I figure things are going well. Time will fix the other minor problems.
The insurance company sent me a letter telling me that the general anesthesia was being denied even
after their expert reviewed some letter or something Dr. S filed. I thought great, there goes another
$400. I called OSI and told a receptionist/nurse about it and she said she would look into it.
March 16th I come home and my wife says do you know you have a dentist appointment on Friday? She
found the appointment card. I said no, dang, I guess I should go since it is an off Friday at work. I had
completely forgotten about having a dental cleaning appointment so soon.
March 20, 2011
March 18 I go to the dentist and I announce I had my wisdom tooth removed. The hygienist said great,
how is it and I told her it was fine, but has been the wisdom tooth from hell. I told her much of the story
above and she wrote some of it down. She looked at the extraction site and said something like
“ohhhh” I said well that is god she at least didn’t say “OH MY GOD!” She said she cannot give a
diagnosis but that I would have to talk with Dr. L and tell him my whole story. She took an x-ray of that
one area even though I was not due for x-rays. The Hygienist cleaned my teeth and avoided the
At the end of the cleaning Dr. L came in to check the work, check for oral cancer and then asked me
about my story and I gave him the short version on how just this one tooth has really been a pain. He
then told me that a whole entire root was still in my jaw. . It was not the jawbone that was exposed it
was the root. I was shocked! He asked who my surgeon was and I said Dr. S. Dr. L knew Dr. S and said
yes, Joe S. Dr. L also said my tooth site is infected and pus was coming out. He poked at it and it hurt. I
said “you have got to be kidding me.” He showed me the x-ray and there it was. He said the root has
got to come out. I was still in shock. I asked if he thought Dr. S was competent. He said, no he has done
good work in the past. . I asked what do you think Dr. S will say. Dr. L said “He will be embarrassed.
Dr. L gave me the x-ray and a note to give Dr. S that states “Still Mesial Root present #17 abscessed,
Needs to come OUT.” When I got to the car I laughed so much I practically cried. This tooth issue will
never end I thought. Later, I started to realize I would have to go through everything again, the fear of
going, the fear of being knocked out, the swollen jaw, more vacation time, the pain, the eating on one
side, the possible infections, the lip and cheek even getting more numb, and the time to heal again.
I then started to think about some of the past visits with Dr. S and things seemed to make sense. Well
some things. This explains why he was always telling me about bone splinters. He had to know what I
thought was the top of my jaw bone was the root or root fragments. I still have not figured out why he
kept asking when I’d see Dr. L again. Maybe this explains the, what I consider, lots of Percocet. Maybe
this is why he got agitated when I called it a “one measly wisdom tooth”. Maybe he didn’t take more x-
rays on subsequent visits because he knew there was still a root in my mouth. What about his comment
on doing x-rays during the procedure to ensure he got everything out. Was this even true? I just don’t
get it. Something seemed fishy to me.
March 19th I started to think more about having to go through everything again. I am depressed. It
sucked the first time and now I have to do it again. Will my cheek and lip numbness get better, worse?
At least I can taste well and my tongue is not numb. My numbness does seem a bit worse lately. It was
just the cheek now it seems to be the lip also on the left side. I do not want to go through this again but
I know I must. Heck, at least I have a story.
I told my mother the story; she mentioned that another mother and child were in the waiting room the
whole time and she thinks I probably took their appointment when I rescheduled in the same day. I
wondered if this may have caused Dr. S to hurry or just quit early to make is other appointment not too
late. Why didn’t he get the whole tooth?
March 20, 2011
While searching the web for topics on “Wisdom Tooth root left in” I saw a few posts on lawsuits over
dental issues. It seems numbness is a common lawsuit. I immediately dismissed a lawsuit because I’m
not that kind of guy. Then I started thinking about everything. I like Dr. S, he is a nice guy, Vietnam
veteran, and good bedside manner. I thought he probably did none of this intentionally. Why should I
sue? Then I thought, I really am unhappy about having to go through all this again. I wondered if I
wanted to go back to him for round two. I thought then that during a car accident no one intentionally
tries to cause harm and yet they have to make amends. Then I think, he had to know what was going
on. Why didn’t he tell me? Now I’m getting a little upset and angry. If I go to another oral surgeon it
will all be out of pocket for sure. Insurance won’t pay twice. This all just really sucks!
As my son put it, “I wonder if there was a perfect storm or events that caused this” if there was it’s still
not right. What if the numbness gets worse? When I drink cold drinks particularly, it feels like I spilled
half of it down my chin. Hopefully, although in the last couple of days the numbness seems to be
growing, it will go away. Was the root being left in the cause of the numbness, if it was all taken out
would it be ok now? So, after much thought and deliberation, I think it is appropriate for me to contact
a lawyer and see where I stand and what my options are. It’s just not right to have to go through this all
over again. God, I dread having to do this all again!
Solocus, Male, 49 years old