This morning, I had a strange thought: if my wisdom teeth hadn’t ended up in a biohazard bucket, and if they were anthropomorphic teeth instead of having been strange vestigial shards of bone growing sideways in my jaw, they would have been able to go out and buy themselves cigarettes today.
Instead, I’ve had slightly more crooked teeth thence, four strange bumps along the backs of my gums, and a little more room in my jaw. But it’s more fun to visualize four dentin-inclined pals trolling about lo these many years, with the sudden realization that they no longer need to bum cigarettes off other rejected wisdom teeth.
Yes, I routinely have those strange thoughts that meander: what I really mean is that it’s been eighteen years since I had my wisdom teeth pulled. I have been separated from those parts of my body for a stretch of time that, by many people’s standards, is considered a long enough period of life. Or, you know, at least a period long enough to decide you want to poison yourself slowly with nicotine, legally. Or vote. Or enlist voluntarily in the armed forces, for either your own betterment or to pursue an exciting career in defending the country/getting to shoot guns/possibly dying pointlessly.
The older kid –Herr Meow for the longtime readers– has started to get excited about the possibility of losing teeth. For him, the possibilities of molting his cute little bone shards and deriving an income from so doing seem endless. There is nothing but fun associated with those teeth and the strange knowledge that they must part. There will be no surgery and no crowding; and even if there are some tiny woes associated with his adult teeth coming in –the pain of chewing food with a loose tooth; the eerie sensation of feeling your teeth moving; having to have a stubborn one pulled out with a little help; or, gasp, accidentally swallowing a just-lost tooth– the experience is overall a happy one.
Getting and shedding teeth when you’re a kid is exciting. You get money. You get peer recognition: showing off those gaps becomes a special bragging session.
Losing teeth as an adult or almost-adult is an object lesson in the many ways that adulthood faithfully promises to suck.
Wisdom tooth extraction usually requires general anesthesia.
A skilled surgeon with years of training takes a hammer and a drill to your jaw– miniature versions of construction/destruction equipment.
The teeth are usually smashed to bits in order to be extracted.
It’s important to get the bits out: any pieces of tooth left behind can become a person’s worst enemy.
Swelling and infection can ensue.
Also, one of the scariest two-word combinations in all of the English language can happen: dry sockets.
The large pieces of gauze left behind where there were teeth are not worthy of being shown.
Perhaps the most thrilling part of the experience is the drugs, or well…. some of them: my stomach could not handle the Vicodin’s nausea waves.
(I’m told I missed out on some fun times. Don’t worry about me– Valium was plenty exciting.)
Poor wisdom teeth. Poor all of us who have to have them removed. There’s a death of innocence moment for you.
When they turn 21, I’m looking my teeth up and buying them a beer.