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Favorite Dental Stories #5

pulling wisdom teeth in iraqI’ve had the power go out a few times while doing dentistry. The most challenging incident of power loss was when I was in Iraq. The power was unreliable, and most buildings on base had a generator to provide consistent power.

I was extracting four wisdom teeth for my company first sergeant when the power went out. It’s one thing to lose power doing something non-invasive like cementing a crown – no big deal. It’s a more complicated problem to lose power in the middle of a surgery. When the power went out we looked at each other and I thought, “Oh crap!” while he just laughed.

I had about ten thoughts run through my head pretty quickly: Do we stop the surgery? We could stitch up and come back to it later, but that means my patient has to heal twice. Do we finish the surgery? I had a battery headlamp for back-up lighting. I had a chisel and hammer for a very old school style of tooth extraction, but that seems so barbaric compared to modern techniques. He said, “Let’s just get it done!”

I was getting my back-up instruments set up with a feeling of dread when the power came back on. We were able to finish the procedure with the normal, modern equipment. Whew!

u.s. medical troop in Iraq

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