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Extracting wisdom from your teeth

The sagacity of teens ages 17 to 21


Some things are just badly named. Airplane schedules, for example, implies that your flight is following a timetable and might possibly leave on time. WikiLeaks sounds more like a crowd-sourced, friendly volunteer plumbing organization than a classified information publisher.Joel Kwartler

And, of course, I’m sure that Anthony’s great-grandfather now regrets choosing “Weiner” when offered possible English translations of his last name at Ellis Island (although, to be fair, his other choices were Whiner, Weenie and Enoughalready).

So it should be no surprise that wisdom teeth are the stupidest teeth in your entire mouth, and in your dog’s mouth, for that matter, if you have a dog, and if it has a mouth. (Note: Dogs don’t have wisdom teeth; yours are simply stupider than any of your pup’s teeth.

Do not attempt maxillofacial surgery on your dog — you may lose one or both of your hands. If you have a disloyal dog, you could even lose one or both of my hands.) What mysterious wisdom do these teeth possess, anyway?

Apparently, your wisdom teeth don’t come in until you’re older and therefore wiser. And according to your teeth, you become wise at some point between age 17 and 21. So, the wisest people in our society today regularly have trouble waking up before 3 p.m. and can’t tell the difference between their and their. (It’s all about voice inflection).

I could continue talking about how that age group includes tons of undiscovered geniuses — ahem — but I’ve made my point.

My point, though, is a lot softer than an oral surgeon’s point. Which is where I was originally headed before I got sidetracked by uncivilized animals, 17 year olds and Anthony Weiner. OK, that was mean; at least dogs know how to properly greet someone.

See, I don’t think anyone would even care about wisdom teeth if surgery wasn’t involved. You don’t name your second-to-last set of molars, do you? What would you call them, your common sense teeth? Actually, just from eavesdropping on the dentist’s secret communication with the nurse (so keep this quiet), I’ve learned the names: you have 12-year molars, 14-year molars, election year molars, light-year molars, weekend-only molars, bicentennial molars and Feb. 29th molars.

Those of you who never went through wisdom teeth surgery are probably curious as to why, exactly, surgery is involved. You’re the ones with the wisdom teeth —f igure it out. No, sorry, my mouth and I are just a little sore at you lucky people.

Unfortunately, many people have wisdom teeth growing in at angles that would eventually crush your teeth together, paralyze your jaw, get infected, poke out behind your ears and email your bank account info to Nigerian princesses. Since our society seems to irrationally turn a cold shoulder to Nigerian princesses in distress, lots of people opt for surgery.

And what does this surgery entail? Well, imagine that your very back teeth suddenly disappeared. You’d be left with bloody pits, which is basically what you’re left with when you leave the operating room afterwards.

Thankfully, though, it’s common to use general anesthesia, so the only thing you’ll remember is the doctor’s final words before you faded out, “Oops. I did…“ (That’s doubly concerning, of course, because it means, under the mask, your surgeon might be Britney Spears.)

After the surgery, the recovery period differs by person. Some people can eat bowls of nails and milk—I mean, cereal and milk, that’s just my (sore) mouth speaking again; I hate it when it goes and does that — by noon, while others may experience so much cheek swelling that chipmunks start hitting on them. Either way, I hear the process has come a long way.

According to my father’s account of his surgery, the surgeon sliced open his sinus, drained his eyeballs, and then disconnected his esophagus, reattaching it to his ears.

I’d rather not scare future patients with the details (blood, pain and bloody painful swelling), so let’s move on and discuss the metaphor at hand. Or simile. Or onamatopeaiuasdfoiwu. (I used my wisdom teeth to tell the difference).

See, getting wisdom teeth out has come to symbolize yet another rite of passage for those of us who like to think we’re mature. But personally, I’d rather have the teeth than the rite, whatever that is.

Now I’d love to say more, but it’s still summer, so I’m going to spend as little time on metaphors as possible. Besides, I’ve got to go call Julian Assange — my toilet is leaking again.

Joel Kwartler will be a Lake Oswego High School senior this fall. Kwartler wrote a regular student column for the 2012-13 school year and also is a summer columnist for the Review. He will return next year as a guest columnist. He would like to thank his readers for taking the time to read his column, and they can read more of his work at HighSchoolHumorBlog.com. To contact him, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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