… it only hurts when I’m laughing …

Whoever named them “wisdom teeth” was not a very wise person. Either that, or they had a very bizarre sense of humor.

It is a seriously unfortunate name for those little pieces of calcium that start pushing their way out of the back of your jaw, causing pain and other silly things to start happening.

They start out as curious things, something new to wonder about. You run your tongue across them every now and again, the sensation of having something new appearing back there just too intriguing to ignore. Then they start to annoy you. Little pieces of food get stuck back there and no matter how hard you try to clear them with your tongue, all you get for your troubles is cuts on your tongue. Reaching for a toothpick becomes a ritual after most meals and that is just the beginning of the inconveniences. Your dentist says, “there’s no need to take them out yet.”

When they finally start to collide with your other teeth, the fun really begins. Little pieces of your teeth start to chip away and if you’re lucky, it will only be from your newest dental residents. Remember when that annoying family moved into your neighborhood? It’s a lot like that. Of course, your dentist says, “there’s no need to take them out yet.”

You wake up one night, most likely a cold night, when your teeth are super-sensitive, and the pain racking your head feels like it is about to explode. Trust me, no amount of Anbesol and Tylenol can make this pain go away. You look around for a pair of pliers, maybe a piece of yarn and a door handle, or simply try to yank it out with your fingers. When you finally get through the waiting period for your dentist, you’re told, “we should probably take them out now.” Really? I thought we might let this pleasure go on for a few more weeks!

Did you remember to sign up for the right health insurance plan? Damn! And with this being a pre-existing condition, you’re at your dentist’s mercy as to where the official yanking will take place. The nickname of my dental hospital was “The Butchery” — a learning hospital in Melbourne that, on first appearances, lives up to its name. It’s an old building, lots of small rooms fitted with what look like torture devices, high up on the top of a cliff-sided mountain, circled by ominous clouds and bolts of lightning. OK, I made up the last bit, but you get the picture.

When you awaken after the surgery, your mouth is full of cotton swabs, soaking up the blood that’s gathering in your cheeks. They let you rest for a few hours, then pack you up and ship you out, minus those cotton swabs. Now when you try moving your tongue over into the back corner of your mouth, well, it hurts. It takes a day or two to be able to feel those stitches or, if you’ve been handled well, just the vacant lots at the end of dental street. Eating is a chore, so enjoy the soup, jelly and other goodies for a few days. Be very careful with your toothbrush or you might catch on something you shouldn’t!

At the end of it all, when the pain subsides, it’s all worth it. Life is a happy, sunshine day once again.

But you have to wonder about the fact that someone was so deranged as to call them “wisdom teeth”. I have a knuckle sandwich for that guy to eat.