Wisdom Teeth and Why We Have Them (Pulled Out)

Day three of my post-wisdom tooth extraction experience (two on the right side), and it was just as horrible as when I got the two on the left extracted four years ago, but in different ways. This time, on day two, I woke up, looked in the mirror and was startled to see the bullfrog with a hangover staring back at me. An up side is my clothes are starting to feel looser as a result of nothing solid entering my mouth since the night before the surgery. I've eaten pudding and refried beans, very carefully.

Because of my, ahem, age and deep roots, the oral surgeon put me under this time (which was much more expensive). I liked him. He was young and confident. The last time, I wasn't put under and felt like the surgeon was going to break my jaw. It was most unpleasant.

Way back in high school, I remember a dentist examining me and casually mentioning that when my wisdom teeth came in, I should have them pulled. That was it. No more talk about the subject (and I've had a mouthful of dental work thanks to my English heritage). Since they didn't offer any trouble, I kept them, until four years ago when the one on the left side broke. It turns out that the older you are, the more entrenched they become in your mouth. They become adhesed and aren't so pliable. This is a problem. The same thing happened, now four years later, with my right tooth breaking. My dentist wanted to save the tooth, but that costly option involved its own set of consequences (crown lengthening surgery, root canal, then a crown). As Husband says, it's six of one, half dozen of the other, and I couldn't see spending that much time and money for a wisdom tooth.

So this whole nasty experience had me wondering why the term "wisdom tooth"? Our young friend Patrick suggests that the "wisdom" comes from having them taken while you're still young, and not waiting until they're really set in their ways, like me. Hmmm. And why do we get these vestigial troublemakers at all? Do they serve any specific purpose? This is what I found:

Wisdom teeth are technically third molars and usually don't erupt until between the ages of 17 and 24, when a person is presumably more wise.

Why do we still get them..?

They are believed to be a holdover from our early days when our diet consisted of mastodons and cave bears and brontosaurus steaks. (Just kidding.) Anyway, early cave dwellers needed the extra chewing power for the rough things they'd shove into their mouths, and they were much more likely to lose their teeth due to decay or drunken cave brawls.

So now you know more about wisdom teeth than you ever wanted to. And it's not true that you become less wise after having them extracted, jes ask me. I ain't got no hold for them no-account tooths.


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