Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stupid Teeth

I'm very proud of the fact that I've never had a cavity. Despite the fact that I never floss, my teeth are in pretty good condition. I went to see a dentist back in March for the first time in four years, and the hygienist told me, not knowing that it had been four years, "You could probably come in for a cleaning only once a year, instead of every six months."

The dentist recommended that I have my wisdom teeth taken out. None of them are "grown in," they're all still hiding under the gums, but he thought they could be doing some damage. One of them was sideways, you see. I procrastinated for a month or two, not wanting to get surgery, but finally called the oral surgeon to schedule a consult. At the same time, my friend Sara had also been to see a dentist for the first time in years, and had her wisdom teeth removed (she had a cavity in one wisdom tooth and the molar near it). Her experience was pretty good, and so was Emily's a few months ago. Becky also had no problems with her extraction, but Jody got a bad infection, and Rania had nerve damage for six months. "Sign me up!" I thought to myself. Anyway, I went for a consultation with the surgeon, and he took a panoramic x-ray that showed that the two bottom wisdom teeth were sitting near nerves. The sideways one was pushing against the molar, crowding the whole row of teeth (and I thought the bottom row was all messed up cuz I didn't wear my retainer). He didn't know where three of the wisdom teeth were located in relation to the "second" molars (the ones at the back), and he wanted to know for sure where they were before he went in and started slicing things open. So he recommended a CT scan.

That's right, my teeth were so f*@$ed up they required a CT scan. But it gets better. He called me today with the results. The two bottom teeth are sitting very close to nerves. One of them is actually "straddling" the nerve. If I have the tooth removed, the nerve may be exposed in the open hole that's left behind, and I may "feel numbness in my lip for a while." When Rania had nerve damage, it wasn't "numbness," it was PAIN. But the two top wisdom teeth are even better: they're sitting directly above the molars, and the molars are very clearly deteriorating. He said I have three options: 1) Do nothing until the molars fall apart completely and start hurting (could be 15 years down the road), then have both molars and wisdom teeth removed; 2) Have the molars removed and hope that the wisdom teeth slide down to replace them (perfect scenario); if the wisdom teeth don't slide down, they'll have to be removed later (at extra cost, of course); 3) Have everything removed now. Here's the best part: he didn't know how best to advise me. He said, if I was his own kid, he'd say don't do anything about the top teeth. But if I was his kid, I'd have access to an oral surgeon at a moment's notice, and I probably wouldn't have to shell out a ton of cash a) for the extraction of the bottom teeth, and later b) for the extraction of the molars/wisdom teeth when they disintegrate into a festering, oozing infection.

This is, of course, all very inexpensive and should be no problem for a 26-year-old who's living paycheck to paycheck. I mean, who doesn't have a few thousand dollars stashed away in a shoe box?

Does God think my body is some sort of experimentation ground? "What would happen if I took asthma, non-specific allergies, narcolepsy that doesn't respond to treatment, sleep apnea that doesn't respond to treatment, small nasal passages, a small jaw and throat, crooked teeth, really bad eyesight, and screwed up wisdom teeth, and put them all in one person?" Me, that's what. But even saying that, I know I should thank my lucky stars I don't have anything worse. I mean, at least I've never had a cavity, right? *crosses fingers and knocks on wood*


  1. I was kind of jealous about your lack of cavities and the fact you don't need to have checkups as often. But then I read the rest. Sorry, Kusems...

  2. Yeah, well, lack of cavities only means you got good genes. I have FIVE STEPS to my nightly oral caretaking, and I still get cavities all the time. Oh yeah, you probably couldn't tell but my ENTIRE MOUTH IS MADE OF COMPOSITE FILLINGS! Just kidding, but I did get the bad cavity-proof genes (is that from the Petersons?).

    P.S. You can't really say that God gave you screwed-up wisdom teeth. Most of the population has screwed-up wisdom teeth, that's why we usually get them out. And...well, you did wait for like TEN YEARS to get them checked out. But all those other health problems are totally legit.

  3. I did not wait ten years to have them checked out. I was told in 2004 that I might consider having them out. And most of the world's population doesn't have wisdom teeth as screwed up as mine, or the doctor wouldn't have told his hygienist, "I don't want to be rushed at all during her surgery. If that means taking seven patients that day instead of eight, then do it."

    And Grandpa Peterson has really good teeth, so the bad genes didn't come from him.