Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Getting your wisdom teeth out: A rite of passage

Depending on which source you believe, upwards of 85-90% of people get their wisdom teeth extracted at some point.

That "some point" is, for most patients, sometime in their late teens. Our son Jack had his out a month ago, marking the seventh and final person in our household to have undergone the procedure.

As "surgeries" go it's a minor one, to be sure, but it does involve general anesthesia, pain meds, and the looming possibility of dry socket, which by all accounts you really don't want to get.

I remember two things about getting my wisdom teeth out in October 1988:

(1) That evening, maybe 6 or 7 hours after the procedure, I went with Terry to watch the Wickliffe homecoming parade. I'm sure I didn't feel 100%, but I was well enough to leave the house for a little while, albeit a little disheveled in a backwards baseball cap and a pair of sweatpants pulled up to my knees, as was the style at the time.

(2) The other thing I "remember" is actually something I don't remember at all. According to my dad, I repeatedly asked what time it was as we drove home and I was still feeling the effects of whatever they used to put me to sleep. There would apparently be long silences broken only by me looking over at him and, my mouth stuffed with cotton, asking what time it was. Over and over. I find this funny.

Indeed, the only really entertaining aspect of wisdom teeth removal is the unpredictable stuff your kids will say or do as they're coming out of anesthesia. For our family, this has ranged from funny questions to unexplained tears.

Being kind and caring parents, we have more than once captured these moments on video and shared the hilarious clips freely through the family text chat.

Having been through (and paid for) so many wisdom teeth extractions, it strikes me that it's an unheralded but very real milestone on the parenting journey. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme, but it's yet another reminder that your child isn't as little as they used to be.

And that you, as the one sharing video of their drug-induced, post-anesthetic verbal ravings, are not nearly as good a parent as you thought you were.

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