Tag: wisdom teeth

Wisdom Teeth Removal as a Right of Passage in Popular Culture

Malcolm middle wisdom teeth

Throughout recorded time, and in many ways right up to this point in our human evolution, wisdom teeth removal was an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved.  Almost all historical references to the operation dwell on the pain and discomfort of the surgery.  The Egyptians pioneered it, and the Babylonians tried it too. Hammurabi’s Code, written in 1754 BC references tooth pulling as a form of punishment.  The surprising appearance of new teeth was noted in texts by Plato and Hippocrates, and later, Europe’s medieval writers would link wisdom teeth to the ‘tooth worm’ which – it was then believed – erupted unseen in people’s mouths to create otherwise unexplained holes in teeth (especially favoring the last molars.)  In monasteries throughout Europe, there were ascetic monks who suffered (and eventually died from)  impacted wisdom teeth as a form of penitents.  And although the 18th century was an Age of Enlightenment for the arts, literature, science and statecraft, common everyday dental care was still very much stuck in the Dark Ages.

Wisdom Tooth Art Print - Zazzle

Gold Wisdom print designed by ElectricPopSpot and printed by Zazzleart.com

Luckily for us, all of that has changed with modernity;  vocational training produces highly skilled dentists, and modern science equips them with effective medical equipment. The profession’s expertise and machinery just keeps getting better, and so does the pain mitigating pharmaceuticals available to patients.  These three elements combined have changed people’s perception of the wisdom tooth removal process, and this is reflected in our mainstream media and popular culture in general.

Today, wisdom teeth removal is something of a grand event in young peoples’ lives; the experience has three distinct stages  1) anticipating , 2) enduring and 3) recovering afterwards (through a combination of resting and ingesting delicious soft foods.)  This medical mark-of-maturation is now celebrated in many different ways.  While there are references in popular music, films and TV shows, wisdom teeth removal videos are especially popular on YouTube; the once dreaded experience now presents young people with a legitimate (and completely legal) opportunity to record themselves in an altered state. The premise is usually the same – a patient recovering from wisdom tooth removal surgery solicits fame as they request a meeting with their favourite film and TV celebrity heroes – but each video still manages to be uniquely entertaining.

University & College Kids Get Wisdom Teeth Done in Summer Break

During their ‘Wisdom Tooth Summer’, many university and college students return to their parents’ house for what is likely to be their last summer at home.  Its also quite common to see these same young scholars use the break to get their wisdom teeth removed.  And so, together, the two events often become a rite of passage. The surgery is so commonplace in this age group that it’s estimated that well over 500,000 wisdom teeth are extracted across Canada during June, July and August of each year.

Wisdom Teeth Removal in Popular Music

Crash test Dummies - wisdom teeth refernce in Bereft Man

The Ghosts That Haunt Me / Crash Test Dummies – 1991

The ubiquity of wisdom teeth extends all the way into the music industry. Just look at the lyrics in this Crash Test Dummies’ song where the narrator proclaims he’s one of the few people alive who have all their wisdom teeth (but still says things that aren’t so wise).

Comin’ Back Soon (The Bereft Man’s Song)
I’ve all my wisdom teeth
Two up top, two beneath
And yet I’ll recognize
My mouth says things that aren’t so wise
But when I sing my darling’s praise, I know I’m right, or close anyways.

Wisdom Teeth Removal in American Television

In a number of recent television sitcoms, wisdom teeth removal surgery is used as a plot device to put a strong character at a medically induced disadvantage. In the show Broad City, in an episode titled Wisdom Teeth, the female lead, while on a double dose of Vicodin, asks a less than desirable male counterpart for a date (in a 23-minute voicemail that involves a Drew Barrymore impression).

A similar scenario unfolds in The Middle, with Malcolm recording his siblings while they’re both under the influence of a dentist’s painkillers.

Long islna dMedium - wisdom Teeth removal

In Season Eight, Episode Eight of Long Island Medium, we get some good insights into how families with millennials are affected by the operation, and how they rally around their suffering siblings while secretly enjoying the family member’s temporary weakness.  Once again, you can see the medicine in the female character’s hands as she helps her brother move about the house. The show celebrates love, family support, and all the silly things people say when under the influence of powerful pain killers.

wisdom tooth removal recovery video on YouTube

On YouTube, video uploads of subjects ‘recovering from wisdom teeth removal surgery’ are so common that the phenomenon is considered to be its own content niche. Countless young people have recorded curious self-reflections from passenger seats in cars, presumably as they are being driven home from a hospital or dental clinic. Their awkward thoughts and sloppy speech are recorded  while still under the influence of the drugs administered during the wisdom teeth removal surgery.  The titles of these videos employ words like ‘recovering after surgery’ and ‘still under influence’.

wisdom teeth recovery videos

A number of everyday Americans have used their wisdom teeth removal scenario to meet their celebrity idols;  Ellen Degeneres flew one viral video subject to her television studio for an interview, and Ryan Reynolds sent another to an exclusive Deadpool screening after that young man’s Recovery Video accrued half a million views.

As pop culture has shown us, having your wisdom teeth removed isn’t nearly as terrifying as it sounds. Not only is it a rite of passage that marks the passage of time between childhood and adulthood, but it’s also an opportunity to relax and let yourself be silly. Who knows? Maybe your post-wisdom teeth removal video will be the next viral sensation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Wisdom Teeth

We’ve all heard of wisdom teeth, but many of us have no idea what they actually are or why so many people have them removed. We’ve put together a list of some frequently asked questions to help you learn more. Archer Dental practices wisdom teeth removal at all three of our locations in downtown Toronto.
What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom Teeth on adult male in Toronto

Adult male with all four wisdom teeth.

Your wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in the back of your mouth (the ones closest to your throat). Most people have four of them (one on each corner of your jaw) but not everyone does. They usually tend to grow in between the ages of 17 and 25, but your dentist can spot them in an X-Ray before then.

Why do we have them?

Wisdom teeth used to serve a very valuable purpose; according to anthropologists, we needed them to help properly chew and break down our ancestors’ early diet of leaves, roots and meats (which would wear down teeth much faster). The modern diet we tend to eat today contains softer foods that’s gentler on our teeth. This makes wisdom teeth more-or-less irrelevant.  Much like the human appendix organ, evolution has rendered wisdom teeth near obsolete, and it’s an evolutionary fact that a growing number of people are being born without them!

Why are they removed?

Wisdom Teeth are generally removed if:

  1. They’re impacted (meaning they can’t come into your jaw normally due to their location at the back of your mouth and can get trapped in your jawbone or gums),
  2. They come in at the wrong angle due to excess crowding with your other teeth,
  3. Your mouth is too small and there’s no room in your jaw,
  4. You have cavities and are unable to brush or floss your wisdom teeth properly due to their difficult to access location.

Most people have room for a maximum of 28 teeth, meaning there’s no room for those extra 4 to grow in. Sometimes people will feel the effects of their wisdom teeth even before they start erupting into the mouth (causing pressure or throbbing in the back of the jaw)

Do all wisdom teeth have to be removed?

mature mouth with all four wisdom teethNo, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed – it’s very subjective and based on the dental situation of each individual patient. The photos on the left show an adult male with all his wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth typically do NOT need to be removed if they’re healthy, have grown in completely (meaning they’re fully erupted), are positioned correctly and bite properly with the opposing teeth on the upper or lower jaw, and are able to be be properly cleaned and flossed in a patient’s daily hygiene practices.

What happens when your wisdom teeth are removed?

Generally speaking, wisdom teeth removal is best between the ages of 16 and 22, though there are always exceptions.

Wisdom teeth removal is generally advised in patients while they’re still young because the formation of the root of the wisdom tooth in the jawbone is not complete so there are fewer complications and risks associated with the surgery.

Extraction (dental surgery) takes 45 minutes or less, and because your doctor may have to cut your gums or bone to access the teeth, you’ll get one of these types of anesthesia depending on the severity: local (a shot of Novocaine or breathing nitrous oxide, for example), IV sedation (your mouth will be numbed and you will also be given drugs to make you drowsy through a vein in your arm), or general anesthesia (you’ll either get drugs through a vein or breathe in gas through a mask. In both cases you’ll sleep through the entire surgery). Your doctor will stitch any incision in the gum shut with dissolvable stitches.

How long does it take to recover from surgery?

The average recovery time is about 3 days (though it may be longer) and swelling, soreness, and discomfort are likely side effects. Your mouth may need a few weeks to heal completely after surgery.