Gaining some ‘wisdom’ at 50

Published 7:27 am Monday, September 25, 2017

I was munching on some pretzels while watching television a few months back when I started feeling the pain in the back of my mouth.
There‘s no tooth there, so I knew I hadn’t damaged one with a pretzel.
The next day, it was swollen a bit and there was an annoying pain. For some reason, I kept pushing down on it with my tongue, which made it hurt but also feel better.
Naturally, I made an appointment with my dentist, assuming maybe it was referred pain from another tooth close by.
A few X-rays later, Dr. Ross came in and after his normally-enthusiastic greeting and run-through of how the family is doing, he informed me the pain I was experiencing was from a wisdom tooth trying to push through.
“But I‘m 50 years old now,” I told him as if there must be some mistake.
I never had to have a wisdom tooth removed. Two wisdom came out on their own a very long time ago. With the amount of work I‘ve had done on my teeth over the years, I was never aware another one was still trapped inside.
Now I get why babies cry when teething. Dr. Ross told me it would be a good idea to try to let this thing come up since the tooth in front of it had already been pulled, there should be plenty of room.
Two months later, it hasn’t come up and it still causes me grief.
I feel a sense of solidarity now with my toddler grandchildren who are going through the same thing; however, they are much tougher than I they have several breaking through at one time. I‘ve taken to biting on things to help break it through.
I opened the freezer door the other day and saw my grandson’s frozen teething ring. I contemplated borrowing it but shook my head and closed the door.
Later that day, my invitation to join AARP came in the mail.
I was only born with three wisdom teeth which explains a lot at times.
I have a genetic condition called hypodontia which sounds much more serious than it is. It’s when you’re born lacking five or fewer adult teeth. I’ve passed this onto one of my three children. My daughter was born with no wisdom teeth and a missing molar. The baby tooth formed, however, which she kept until she was 26 years old when it finally started to break up.
She could one day pass this along to one of her children. Even my two full-toothed kids could pass it on to their children, despite being born with all their teeth themselves. The genetic disposition is still there.
My daughter lucked out for sure. She’ll never have the pain or expense of having to remove her wisdom teeth.
I‘m not sure how much longer I can deal with this thing before I break down and have it removed. I really want to keep it. I‘ve had teeth pulled before, but this tooth has been a part of me for 50 years. And let’s face it, at 50 we start to lose a lot of things and breaking in a new tooth sort of makes me feel just a little bit younger.
Besides, I can’t risk losing what little wisdom I‘ve gained over the years. I have a feeling I‘m going to need it.

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