Wisdoms Lost

In the interest of following up on this article published almost two and a half years ago, I wish to inform you that my wisdom teeth are gone. If you read that old article from back when I was a senior, you'll see I was very convinced that I would not have my wisdom teeth removed, despite suggestions from my dentist that they should go. Back then, those sentiments came from my knowledge that my wisdom teeth had grown in well, that they weren't hurting me, and that some research states that many (maybe even over 50%!) of the wisdom tooth extractions in the U.S. are unnecessary.

In the last two and half years, not much changed for my wisdoms: They stayed straight and continued not to hurt, they let me brush them thoroughly and they were treated as full members of my dental family. Nevertheless, the pressure was upped on me: I was assured that complications and difficulties would be very possible if I kept my wisdom teeth. (I understood this already, but such a possibility - without any actual complications existing - hardly makes a procedure necessary.) Then, however, a single point of reasoning was laid down that was enough to make me break:

If I had my wisdom teeth out now, it would be on my parent's insurance.

For most people around the world, this sort of issue doesn't exist: Either you have a national, universal health insurance plan, or in other places, you simply aren't well off enough to be worrying about wisdom teeth. In the United States, however, people who don't cough up the dough or have the connections to get private insurance plans are punished harshly with huge medical bills, even for the smallest procedures. An example: Last spring I spent a couple hours in Georgetown Hospital with a sprained ankle and got a few x-rays to be sure I hadn't broken anything. After my insurance information was taken I was given a brace-thingy and crutches, and then sent on my way. Imagine my shock when months later I received a bill for over $2000! Apparently my mother's insurance company was unaware I was in college, which meant I wasn't covered. (Thankfully after sending in my enrollment information they did take up the bill.) Even if I get a job with insurance as soon as I get out of college, I figured the risks of keeping my teeth for the time being far outweighed the minimal loss of getting them pulled.

And that's how I'm sitting here with only 28 teeth, eight days after my extraction. The whole affair went extremely well and my gums feel totally normal, aside from the little holes that still remain in them. My brother, two and a half years younger than me, got his wisdom teeth removed on the very same day. His, however, were impacted - all of them - so there's no way I would dispute the necessity of his operation. In my case, I am still pretty sure the tooth removal wasn't truly necessary. Still, I'm not going to regret having them out; instead of losing future wisdom, I believe all I've lost is future worries.

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