They are no more. Since I was 18-years-old, dentists have been telling me that I should have my wisdom teeth pulled. I have been steadfastly ignoring this advice. Until today. I finally had to have it done, and if you'll notice the nice sideways position of said teeth, I'm sure you'll see why I was nervous about this little procedure. (Please kindly ignore the eight pounds of metal in my mouth.)
Here's the thing: All the dentists I've had over the years, and there have been many, have said that I need to have them removed because 1) the pocket that was formed between my molars and my wisdom teeth was an ideal place for food and/or bacteria to get caught, which would ultimately lead to cavities and/or infection and 2) the older you are the harder it is to recover from such a procedure. These were all risks I was willing to try to avoid by doing things like brushing, flossing, and water-picking. As it turns out, I finally got a cavity that couldn't be filled with my wisdom tooth in place.
The thing that NONE of my dentists ever told me was that my wisdom teeth would continue to grow as I got older, the roots getting longer and more deeply embedded in the bone and possibly entwined with a major nerve as I got older. I assume they would stop at some point and not just grow out my neck, but I didn't find any confirmation of this in the literature in the oral surgeon's waiting room this morning. Maybe I just didn't read far enough. Anyway, as you can imagine, all of this stuff makes extraction more difficult. These are facts that probably would have been more convincing to me than "you might have trouble down the road." WTF, dentists? All my other teeth were fully formed; I assumed my wisdom teeth were too. I didn't know they would keep growing, thereby making future extraction more difficult. Am I the only one who has been led down the road of complacency by this lack of information? Am I the only one who didn't know your wisdom teeth keep growing well into adulthood? (Also, this x-ray is from 11 years ago, so presumably you can imagine roots that are a little longer and more difficult to extract.)
Anyway, I am doing OK right now, but I am a little miffed that they seem to have removed my lower lip along with my wisdom teeth. I can, however, do an excellent rendition of Bill Cosby's "The Dentist". Sorry I can't embed, but it's definitely worth clicking over if you've never heard it! Please enjoy while I go ice my face.