Wisdom Teeth

By Shreena Bhakta

From ages 17-25, an interesting thing can happen to you. At the back of your mouth, four molars start to pop out. They erupt later than your other teeth, at an age when you’re technically considered wiser. That’s right, I’m talking about wisdom teeth. To me, they’ve always been something that I wasn’t looking forward to — I just knew it was going to happen and be a big part of my teenage years.

I’ve seen the viral videos on Youtube titled, “David After Dentist” or “GETTING MY WISDOM TEETH REMOVED!!” or even “BROTHER GETS WISDOM TEETH REMOVED!!! Funny Reactions” showing the loopy aftermath of surgery. People make jokes that you’ve become wiser, and then when you have the teeth removed, you’re going to lose all your wisdom. There’s even the popular hashtag “#wisdomteeth” with over 300,000 posts on Instagram. I feel like wisdom teeth are considered a huge milestone in your life, as most people have to get them removed.

Originally, though, wisdom teeth had the purpose of helping our ancestors to chew through tough foods. They had larger jaws and enough room to leave the teeth in there. After 10,000 years when the human diet changed to softer foods, our jaws changed, too, leaving us with little room for these big teeth.

That’s where I am right now; my huge teeth are trying to emerge from a small mouth that can’t fit any more teeth. I went to the dentist recently to check if everything was normal in their growth. In fact, some people don’t get all four of their wisdom teeth. It’s estimated that anywhere from 5 to 37% of people are missing one or more of their wisdom teeth. I was hoping for myself to be one of these people, but unfortunately, I can assure you that they are all there. And because all four of them are there, I have to get all of them removed before summer ends.

It’s definitely hard now to get my wisdom teeth removed, with the pandemic and my growing busy schedule. I had to fill out a health questionnaire before my dentist appointment and get my temperature checked. When I’m trying to schedule appointments with the oral surgeon, we’ve been playing phone tag to try and figure out when to schedule my consultation and surgery.

And thinking about the surgery aspect of things, that’s a whole other part of this experience. I had oral surgery about 5 years ago, so I know a little bit about what to expect, but I still can’t help to feel a little nervous and scared already. I think that’s part of the experience that’s slightly missing from the whole media portrayal of wisdom teeth — you only see the funny things people say and do AFTER they’ve gotten the surgery. I wish it was more normalized to see in the media what the entire experience is like, that way, more people can be prepared and shake the anxiousness off.

This whole thing feels exciting and scary. Getting and removing your wisdom teeth feels like such a big milestone in your young adult life, but on the other hand, I don’t really know what’s going to happen with the pain, recovery, and not to mention, everything going on with the pandemic. It’ll definitely be an experience to remember...if the sedation allows me to.