Over the past few years, both of my kids had their third molars — their wisdom teeth — extracted. I guess it’s just done routinely now. When I was their age, my wisdom teeth came in and stayed; there was room for them to grow in and they never seriously pushed anything else out of the way. Firmly anchored in my jaw — that’s where they’ll stay until just after noon today.
A couple years ago, our old dentist sold his practice. His philosophy on the wisdom teeth was that unless they were causing real problems, it was more trouble than it was worth to bother with taking them out. Then the new dentist took a look. Among the very first things he told me was that they had to come out; it was a matter of general oral health, he said, and that the presence of the wisdom teeth would make it harder to take care of the rest of my teeth (such as they are: thanks to a younger life filled with an enthusiasm for sweet stuff matched only by my carelessness in brushing and flossing, I’ve got a mouth full of fillings and a variety of interesting dental hardware).
So today’s the day. All four wisdom teeth: out. Generally, I’m told, the method is to sedate patients — knock them out — so that they really don’t experience “the procedure.” Not me, though. Through a misunderstanding with the dentist’s office, I wasn’t told that I couldn’t eat this morning. After I’d had a bear claw and a cup of coffee, it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t have been eating. I called the dentist’s office; the person I talked to expressed alarm, consulted the doctor, then told me I had two options: reschedule the appointment (next opening: September) or be numbed but awake for the procedure.
I had to think it over. My desire to just be done with it won out, so I’m going in and having it done without sedation. I figure if I can sit on a bike for three or four days at a time, I can deal with a very uncomfortable hour of having someone wrestle around in my mouth. I should really stop now, before I talk myself out of it.