In case you’re wondering, one of the few things worse than having a three-week-old sinus infection that makes all the teeth in your mouth sing in pain every time you move, is coming down with an honest to goodness toothache that reminds you what real pain is.
Wisdom teeth aren’t smart but according to my dentist they’re a dying breed. Not to brag or anything, but I have a huge bite radius. This means that I have plenty of room in my mouth for all my teeth, including my wisdom teeth. My dentist, who only yesterday did a snappy and relatively pain free root canal on my lower left wisdom tooth, says that even though Americans as a whole are getting fatter, our mouths are getting smaller, and many of us don’t have room for our wisdom teeth. (There’s another school of thought that believes that we’re losing our powerful grinding teeth because the food we eat is so much softer than it used to be. It doesn’t take much effort to chew up a Quarter Pounder.)
Due to this lack of space, lots of wisdom teeth grow in cramped or crooked and need to be yanked.
The only problem I’ve ever had with mine is that they are so far back inside my cavernous mouth that I have trouble reaching them with a toothbrush and my fat fingers have a problem getting a loop of floss next to them. As a result I’ve had cavities in a few and just yesterday needed a root canal to save one.
The last time I had a root canal was ten or eleven years ago and I was stunned by how technology has improved the process. The advent of new drills with super sharp tungsten files along with real-time X-ray viewing has cut the treatment time, which used to eat up most of a day, to under an hour!
With me, there’s always been a massive degree of shame associated with going to the dentist. I never seem to find the time to go in for regular, preventative check-ups, so when I walk in the door it’s because I’ve gone and let one of my precious teeth succumb to the ravages of decay. Maybe it’s because I had a horrible dentist when I was a kid (which I did), or maybe it’s the overpowering position the dentist has, looming over you when you sit in the chair, or maybe because it’s just so easy to put off dealing with. I don’t know, but I’ve never gotten over the curve and started going in before a problem develops.
Just like smelly feet, dental problems run in my family. Most of my relatives come from the old country, where dental hygiene was apparently never a high priority. My uncles were a hearty bunch and I recall a few of them were fond of popping the caps off beer bottles with their bottom teeth, and one of them was so adverse to going to the dentist that he used to yank is own bad teeth with a pair of pliers.
Ow. Just typing that hurts my mouth.