A wise man once said, “Don’t wait until you’re 40 fucking years old to get your wisdom teeth removed, you dumb dumb dodo bird.”
I mean I’m paraphrasing/making that up entirely but the point is, don’t wait. Because you know what the OPPOSITE of wisdom is? Sitting on your ass and doing nothing about your wisdom teeth, and waiting until your body reaches the (apparently decrepit?) age of 40, which then makes the procedure about 10 times more complex and susceptible to multiple kinds of nasty post-surgery complications. WHO KNEW?!*
*All dentists. All doctors. Most adults. Definitely some kids. Not me, though!
Now, in my defense, I was never explicitly told that I needed to get my wisdom teeth removed. It was always a kind of “on the fence” situation. Three of them grew in fine, but the bottom left remained SLIGHTLY impacted (meaning part of the tooth did not emerge from the gums. Follow me for more definitions of things you already know).
Beginning around age 17, dentists started to comment that “they should probably be taken out, but if they don’t cause pain, there’s no rush.” Well, the procrastinator in me loves nothing more than to hear “No rush!” so I kicked my feet up and sat on that shit for decades, like a boss.
My teeth never hurt. So I did what I do best– nothing.
Dentists kept mentioning it “would be a good idea” to remove them soon, but my brain clearly has an aversion to ideas that are good. So I continued to live my life, eat my sweets, and pretend that my body was not deteriorating with age.
Then I got pregnant with Sophie and I’m not sure the exact correlation, but my teeth started to hurt like a bitch. I went to the dentist after a 2-year COVID hiatus, at which point he kindly informed me, in the most gentle way possible, that it was absolutely batshit insane that I was still holding on to these teeth.
Me: “But they give me wisdom, right?”
Me: “Maybe you’ve heard that one before…”
Dentist: “This is serious. You need to remove these IMMEDIATELY. You cannot wait.”
Hearing these words and digesting the gravity of my situation, I did what any responsible adult would do and waited 11 more months.
Which brings us to last week, when I finally had them removed. And you know what guys, I’m not sure what all the scary warnings and dire tones were about because it was, like, nothing.
No jk it’s been horrible.
Here’s why. Apparently, the reason to NOT WAIT to get your wisdom teeth out (a reason that was never explicitly explained to me before I met with the surgeon, but that I probably could have figured out with a quick google search or, you know, some common fucking sense) isn’t just because your body is older and slower to heal (although that never helps! Middle age is cool cool cool.)
The more pressing issue is that the longer you keep the wisdom teeth, the deeper the roots grow into your gums, and the closer those roots are to approaching a very important huge ass nerve that runs along your jawline (it’s called the Mandibular Nerve, but I try not to get too medically technical on this blog because, you know, #notadoctor, but if you’re interested in more information please feel free to use the google and then let me know what it says).
The oral surgeon determined from my x-ray that the bottom left tooth (the impacted one) had roots VERY close to this nerve, so he felt inclined to warn me that nerve damage was a possibility. A very rare possibility, but a possibility nonetheless.
Me: “Ok, but like HOW rare?”
Surgeon: “VERY rare.”
Me: “Like so rare that it definitely shouldn’t stop me from getting the surgery?”
Surgeon: “Yes, that rare. I’ve only had one patient with nerve complications, and he was almost twice your age.”
Me: “Ok that sounds pretty fucking rare.”
Surgeon: “INCREDIBLY rare.”
So naturally, I have nerve damage.
The bottom left side of my face, from lower lip to chin, is completely numb. Oh, unless you count the constant burning, itching and tingling sensations that I can do nothing about, because when I try to scratch or massage the area, it is paralyzed and therefore touching it is useless. It’s that exact feeling of when your dental anesthesia is starting to wear off, and you feel the tingling but you’re still numb and uncomfortable and if you try to sip
wine water it will dribble down your chin like a 90 year old hospice patient. And it’s ALL the time. Additionally, I’ve lost partial sense of taste and smell, so I don’t even get the satisfaction of fully enjoying the ice cream that rolls out of my mouth, down my face and into my neck.
So that’s been cool.
The surgeon (the same one who really played up that “rare” factor) feels “cautiously optimistic” that the damage is temporary, which would be reassuring if I had more than -2% faith in him, which I do not. And even if the damage IS temporary, it will still take 3 months to a year to resolve. THREE. MONTHS. TO. A. YEAR. Who has that kind of time?! Alright, fine. I do. But it’s annoying.
So that’s where we are. Wisdom teeth gone, jaw aching, nerves shot. The only positive is that I can now use this as a cautionary tale to warn all of you, and save you from similar despair– DO NOT WAIT TO REMOVE YOUR WISDOM TEETH.
I’m sorry, what’s that? This advice is useful to no one, because you removed yours at 17, like a not-idiot? WELL CHEERS TO YOU THEN.
6 thoughts on “Wisdom”
Excellent graphic! So sorry for the numbness, pain, and all the things you are feeling about the wisdom you have gained!
Feel better Emily. Beautifully written. I love your post. You freaken rock. I had no idea about this whole topic I took myself me out when I was grinding my teeth in my teens but if it didn’t bother I may have waited.
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1. It was a really painless process!
2. I’m glad I didn’t wait too long, because now I’m in a lot of pain and it’s not fun.
3. I wish my dentist would’ve told me earlier about the risk of nerve damage.
I’m so sorry . I have been missing you all these months —and honestly was just thinking about your posts the other day –and wondering if you were still doing them. Welcome back (at least to me). Am having your mom to play in a Member Guest golf event next month. Hope you feel better soon!
Omg I was 45 and it was more painful than my two c sections!
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SAME!! Also two c sections and also this is worseeeeeee 😩😩😩😩😩