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wisdom teeth are not so wise


For the last week or so I have been battling the green phlegm in my sinuses and the various cavities throughout my head. When I felt as though my upper right molars were workin' on the chain gang I made an appointment with the good doctor and got some drugs.

The pounding in my molars, however, led me to examine my pearly whites. My adult teeth came in pretty darn straight back when the days of the Tooth Fairy were waning. And they continued to stand straight like soldiers guarding Buckingham Palace until I turned 15. It was then that my wisdom teeth came onto the scene in a big, bad way.

Like motorcycle toughs infiltrating June Cleaver's neighborhood, these molars pushed, shoved and rolled over the innocent little bobby soxers in town. Where once my mandibles stood tall and proud, the repercussion of the wisdom teeth left a line of teeth that veer slightly forward and back. While it's not so noticeable face to face, I cannot bite into a peppermint patty without leaving a wobbly track in the chocolate.

All four molars were impacted and all four took their leave over Easter vacation of my 16th year. (You're going to Florida for Easter vacation? Sounds like fun, but not as much fun as I have planned. I'm having four wisdom teeth surgically removed!)

My memories of the extraction now seem like a scene out of Little Shop of Horrors with Steve Martin as the sadistic dentist.

I remember sitting in the chair and watching the nurse buckle a cracked and faded brown leather belt around my waist. My poker face wasn't yet what it is today and I looked at her in quizzical horror. She responded in an upbeat, chirpy voice, "The medicine we're going to give you will make you relaxed and we don't want you to fall out of the chair!"

Then the dentist wiped the inside of my elbow with alcohol and placed the needle holding the "Twilight Sleep" drug above my vein. I remember thinking 'I know you're technically a doctor, but are you authorized to use needles outside of the mouth?' Of course I just went with it, but I did think my mom was placing a hell of a lot of trust into these people while she casually read a "Reader's Digest" in the waiting room.

So very quickly after the shot, my head started feeling loopy and I fell asleep. I didn't wake up again until half way through the procedure. I had assumed they did the right side first (since they were on my right when I went under) and now they were on my left. I had a bizarre reaction (twice during this ordeal) that was an extremely weird feeling that I have not experienced since.

When I woke up with the dentist on my left side, my body started completely freaking out. It was like my mind was a separate entity from my body. My body was the coked-up neurotic who was spazzing out and shaking and trying to get the fuck out of Dodge. My mind, on the other hand, was cool like Fonzie, saying 'C'mon, baby. It's going to be okay. Go with me on this. Just relax and go back to sleep.'

So, soon (I think) the nurse calmed me down and got me sleeping again. They must have finished removing the other two teeth and the next thing I remember is lying on a bench with an orange cover.

Again, my mind and body were fighting it out. I was crying, shuddering and gasping for breath clinging onto the rubbery cushion but my mind, in its leather jacket was leaning against the jukebox, saying 'I told you it would be cool. Just let go and chill out. It's over, for crying out loud. What is your problem?'

Again, I remember the nurse trying to comfort me and telling me that girls usually have this exact reaction to the "Twilight Sleep" medicine and it would go away. At the time I thought that was interesting that boys didn't seem to react to the medication that way, but girls did. Hmm.

My other memory of the experience, after I calmed down, was my mom helping me walk to the car. I remember feeling like I was an astronaut walking on the moon and I was taking these slow, exaggerated steps with my knees going up really high in the air. I don't know why I thought I had to walk like that, but I did.

Anyway, the remnants of the wisdom teeth occasionally show up in photos. If my head is turned enough to the right I have Kentucky backwoods teeth. It took me until I was 36 to discover this photographic evidence. And by that I mean the first photo that captured this phenomenon was taken when I was 36 years old.

I zoomed into the photo (on the computer) at 400% and shuddered violently. I went back to 100% to make sure that was my face on the screen. I called my husband to the monitor and asked have you ever noticed this? Yes, he assured me, I have noticed it, but it's not that bad.

You noticed this and you married me anyway? I asked, incredulously.

Oh, come on. It's not that bad, he answered.

Wow, was all I could muster.

I would probably be a good candidate for those Invisalign clear braces but it does seem a bit vain. Most of the time you can't really notice it. I've taken to thinking of it as my own version of "Where's Waldo."

And, it will make identifying my charred remains that much easier.


2006-12-28 at 9:42 a.m.

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