Wisdom Teeth Don’t Make You Smarter

Dental_1 I received a weird, yet accurate observation from the dentist while getting a filling this afternoon (it was supposed to be quick, tiny and minor and ended up being a huge long drilling project). Initially, the cavity appeared small so she said I probably wouldn’t even need to be numbed. And I was like thank god, no shot. She was like, “Really? People in Manhattan always want to be numbed.” Apparently, she also works on Long Island, which in her words is much more blue collar, and no one wants shots.

I’m genetically blue collar (though librarianship has been called a pink collar profession, you know along with teaching—low paying women’s work) and it disturbed me that this could be told from my aversion to anesthesia. Amusingly, when I told James that originally the cavity seemed small enough to have it filled shot-less, he was like “no way, you have to get a shot.” He just had a filling on Tues. and while also scared of needles, is more scared of feeling pain (not that I’m some crazy modern primitive pain seeker). Different upbringings.

For the third time in my life, I think I’m going to cancel a wisdom tooth (teeth—three in total) extraction. One, because it seems too expensive even with insurance (maybe I’m delusional and cheap—I have no clue what dental procedures should cost). I don’t have $700 lying around. But even more importantly, I don’t want a freaking I.V. I was under the impression that this was optional, but the receptionist insisted in that bossy way peculiar to Eastern European women (I can never tell if it’s a language/cultural miscommunication or if they’re all kind of harsh and pushy) “the doctor will give you an I.V.” like it was a fact. And I was like, “well, I don’t want one” which elicited a stark, “yes, the doctor will give you an I.V.” What the fuck? After that, I refused to make an appointment, which they try to get you to do on the spot (I’ve always found dental practices to be very sketchy in comparison to doctors offices). But yeah, a Manhattanite would be thrilled to be knocked out, needle in arm. I googled wisdom teeth extraction and everyone was going on about how they were so relieved to get an I.V. during the procedure. Ok, whatever, freaks.

5 thoughts on “Wisdom Teeth Don’t Make You Smarter

  1. My dentist through college (Camp Webster ‘73) got his degree (Wash U, when they had a dental school) in the 1920’s. To the end, Dr Sharp used one of the first electronic drills ever marketed, with exposed pulleys and belts and a top speed about half that of current models. He never heard of a “dental assistant,” and would use the time he took preparing your filling mixture to relight his cigar.

    Until I moved to North Dakota at age 29, I did not know it was commonplace to get a shot for any dental work as simple as a cavity filling or crown. Dr Sharp reserved the needle for root canal work and maybe some of the more epic kinds of extraction. I just figured that Dakotans were pansies, and resisted offers of novocaine until the middle-aged Fear of Any Pain kicked in about fifteen years ago. In fact, it might not have been the Fear – I think the new generation of dentists just began whipping out the hypodermic without asking once whether you wanted it.

    Dr Sharp’s fillings have been in my head since elementary school. The new guys’ stuff keeps having to be replaced every couple of years.

    Anecdotal advice about wisdom teeth extraction: Like C-sections or tonsillectomies, it’s nice to know the procedure is there, but it is, I think, waaay overused. Why, Dr Sharp, Dr Sharp said it wouldn’t be necessary unless I got an ache. Some jerk dentist (in central Maine, this time) once lisped he wouldn’t see me for a second appointment until I had my wisdom teeth removed by a specialist working 100 miles away. Another one tried using the Fear—“Extraction hurts more when you are older!” Yeah, right. My wisdom teeth and I are getting along just fine, ‘ all these years.

    And what’s with all these x-rays every time you show up for a routine cleaning?

  2. I certainly see the appeal of being knocked out while having an unpleasant procedure done. But for me, the idea of having a thick needle inserted and taped to my arm is much more frightening than being conscious while the dentist bangs around in my mouth.

    My boyfriend who has like the lowest pain threshold I’ve ever witnessed got his wisdom teeth out a few years ago and was awake for the extraction. I was surprised he went that route. Now that I think about it, he’s a horrible example because he ended up fainting during the damn thing. Like I said, he’s a baby.

    To pull or not to pull? I still think I’ll hold onto my teeth for the time being. But I’m all for hearing others’ uplifting experiences and horror stories.

  3. Hi, I just want to say that I agree with some of the posts here. I once had a hygenist tell me that I need my wisdom teeth out and that got my shook up. I’ve been concerned because I have a dentist’s appointment next month and they’ll probably take another x-ray. I’m just glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to have this done. Besides, I had an IV before and felt all dizzy and nauseaous. I’d prefer to avoid this surgery at all costs. No offense to anyone who disagrees with me on this. I just feel that if I’m not in pain, why worry about it?

  4. hi, i like you site it’s pretty cool. i like your info on wisdom teeth. im 13 and im already starting to get mine. heh heh early i know. well i just found out now and im praying it wont hurt. anyways, please check out my site at SLEEPLESSGURL.COM thanks! -cheryl.

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