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Moronic Wisdom Tooth » Odontectomy and Forced Penitence

Everyone’s got to have one vanity. Mine is my complete set of permanent teeth with two wisdom teeth that popped up in my early 20’s. They say you are so lucky if you end up having great teeth that are permanent without the help of a dentist. Well I guess I’m lucky or maybe I got this from my father who also has perfectly aligned teeth. Another way to have great teeth is of course if you have so much money and you can spare some for what we consider as celebrity’s vanity. Though imagining I’m a celebrity is sometimes included on my hot afternoon daydreaming sessions (and I know you did too), I am not spending a fortune on my teeth. My vanity only includes a regular whitening toothpaste, nice toothbrush, floss and annual prophylaxis.

I thought my complete set of teeth is already perfect and I never used to give wisdom teeth any thought at all, I mean why would I? But last week, before the Holy Week vacation, I started feeling something weird on my right jaw. I thought I’m just having tooth sensitivity problem but it became too painful on the second night I have to cancel my trip to Mindoro. My dentist is on vacation so I just took pain reliever for four days and ate only soft foods – forced penitence for a sinner like me eh?

The lost wisdom of my wisdom tooth

The penitence week was over and everybody was celebrating the Easter Sunday but me, I’m still serving my forced panata. My dental periapical x-ray showed that my right wisdom tooth has no wisdom after all. It lost its mind and decided to grow sideways pushing my second molar, which is really painful so I have no choice but to have it extracted.

Panoramic xray of my teeth. You can see my wisdom tooth (lower left side) is pushing the other teeth causing me extreme pain.  
I undergo the costly odontectomy, or the surgical removal of the tooth. The dentist said I have really strong teeth and it took him 2 painful hours to extract my moronic wisdom tooth. I have high pain tolerance but odontectomy is really painful. To distract myself on the pain I just hummed “Ain't about the (ha) cha-ching cha-ching, aint about the (yeah) ba-bling ba-bling” chorus of the song Price Tag by Jessie J. I don’t know why this particular song got stuck on my mind but it helped.

Well that explains my absence in the blogosphere for almost two weeks now and I just want to insert this post to let you know that no, I didn’t abandoned this blog.

The wisdom of knowing your wisdom tooth

Forgive me for my useless I’m-in-pain-hu-hu-hu rants but what I intended here is to pull together some information and useful resources to help you if you are suffering with or just curious about your wisdom teeth, because I myself is curious.

Here’s what I gathered:
  1. By the age of 13, most people have 28 permanent teeth, including two sets of molars, then, at 18 or later, a third set of molars begins to come in which are called wisdom teeth, because they appear later in a person’s life, when he is “supposedly” wiser.
  2. Generally, there is no need for wisdom teeth. They usually come out impacted and cause infection, resulting in pain on one or both sides of the mouth.
  3. But in 2008, Japanese researchers found that stem cells can be extracted from extracted wisdom teeth. You can opt to have the stem cells from those teeth isolated and saved, in case you should ever need the cells.
  4. It is advisable for these teeth to be extracted to avoid further complication. The question remains although whether or not this is a essential method for most people. Dentists don’t all agree about the answer. There may be clear reasons to opt for extraction.
  5. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, it is estimated that around 85% of wisdom teeth will eventually need to be removed. The latest data suggest that as many as 80 percent of people will develop problems with their wisdom teeth.
  6. Our ancestors had larger jaws, so there was room in the human mouth for 32 permanent teeth, including third molars—wisdom teeth. But now our jaws are smaller. The result: There’s no longer room in most of our mouths to house 32 teeth. So the last teeth we develop—our wisdom teeth—often become impacted, or blocked from erupting.

Wisdom Tooth Surgery Post Operative Instructions

These are the instructions of my dentist. Disclaimer: I have no authority over this matter and if you recently had odontectomy, always consult your dentist.

  1. Don not rinse or spit for 24 hours after surgery.
  2. Keep fingers and tongue away from socket or surgical area.
  3. Use ice packs on surgical area (side of face) for first 24 hours, apply ice 20 minutes on – 10 minutes off. Bags of frozen peas work well.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids but do not use straw.
  5. If the muscle of the jaw become stiff, chewing gum at the intervals will help relax the muscles, as well as the use of warm water, moist heat to the outside of your face over these muscles.
  6. After the first post-operative day, use a warm salt-water rinse following meals for the first week to flush out particles of food and debris, which may lodge in the surgical area. (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Mouthwash can be added for a better taste.)
  7. Diet may consist of soft food, which can be chewed or swallowed. No seeds, nuts, rice, popcorn, chips, etc.
  8. A certain amount of bledding is to be expected following surgery. Bleeding is controlled by applying pressure to the surgical area using small rolled gauze for 90 minutes. After that time remove the gauze and then you may eat or drink.
  9. Do not smoke for at least 5 days after surgery. Nicotine may break down the blood clot and cause a “dry-socket,” which is an undesirable side effect.
  10. Expect swelling for 3-5 days and a slight fever.
  11. 24 hours after surgery, rinse mouth gently with a solution of one-half teaspoonful of salt dissolved in a glass of water. Repeat after every meal or snack for seven days. Rinsing is important because it removes food particles and debris from the socket area and thus helps prevent infection and promotes healing.
  12. After 24 hours, brush tongue with a dry toothbrush to keep bacteria growth down, but be careful not to touch the extraction site. Resume your regular tooth brishing, but avoid disturbing the surgical site as not to loosen or remove the blood clot.

Origin of the wisdom tooth moniker
  • The origin of the wisdom moniker may come from the Dutch, where they are called verstandskies, which would literally translate to wisdomtooth. However, verstand may have been intended to mean “standing far away”, as in, in the far back of the mouth.
  • Turkish people call them the 20th Year Tooth, while Spanish refers to them as the Molars of Judgement (as 18 is the age at which the law applies).
  • In Japan they are Oyashirazu, literally meaning “unknown to the parents”. Apparently, children have moved away from home by the time these teeth come in.
  • In Thailand they call it the huddling tooth, for it’s pesky reputation for crowding your other teeth.
  • The most unique term comes from Korea, where they are called Sa-rang-nee, which means love teeth. It refers to the pain of a first love, commonly experienced around that age.
I don’t’ know the Filipino/Tagalog word for wisdom tooth. If you know kindly share it on my comments section. Or you can take a guess - it could be fun.

Final Note

As of posting this article, my right face is still slightly swelling but I’m feeling much better now. If you have had the wisdom tooth operation and would be willing to share your experiences here with anything that may help others kindly share it on my comments section.

Thanks to: Dr. Jun of 
Da Vinci Dental Center
De Los Santos - STI Megaclinic
Building A, 5/F SM Megamall
Origas Center, Pasig City 
Telefax: 638-6814, Contact No.: 637-9661 loc. 121
Sources of Facts and Citations:
» Lyon, Lindsay.The Wisdom on Wisdom Teeth. Surgeons favor pre-emptive action; others might wait and see Posted: February 14, 2008. [Retrieved: 29 April 2011]
» Dental news. Stem cells from wisdom teeth. Posted 26th Aug 2008 [Retrieved: 29 April 2011]
» Ebbert, S. and Sangiorgio, M., 1991. Facing the dreaded third molar. Prevention, 43(7):108–110.
» Bergman, Jerry. December 1998. Are wisdom teeth (third molars) vestiges of human evolution? First published: TJ (now Journal of Creation) 12(3):297–304 [29 April 2011]
» Pilling, Ryan. December 20, 2010 The wisdom of teeth [29 April 2011]
» Wikipedia. Article “Wisdom Tooth” [29 April 2011]
» Image Source: Beinart International Surreal Art Forum.Posted by Suzzan [29 April 2011] 


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