Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wisdom & Love, In My Mouth

My third molars are growing in. To be honest, they started growing in about ten years ago. TEN. YEARS.

Although they are called wisdom teeth here, I'm far more used to hearing them referred to as 사랑니, which translates literally to "love teeth" (pronounced sa-rang-nee, the 'rang' being a cross between 'rang' and 'lang'). It's supposedly indicative of the pain and youth of first love. I remember first love being youthful, sure, but not particularly painful (at least, in retrospect!).

My dentist took x-rays of my teeth, top and bottom on both sides, when one of them started poking through my gums. He told me that if my teeth continue growing straight through, I shouldn't get them removed, unless the pain of cutting my gums is too much to bear.

Since I had braces and oral surgery in high school, I didn't want even MORE dental work (I do love my dentist, though, and enjoy seeing him- I've gone to the same dentist, same building, same chair since I was five). I tolerated the pain. Growing these teeth in has given me a greater appreciation of wailing babies- they're not obnoxious, their teeth are just growing in! Cutting through their gums! More than one at a time! It HURTS!

Now, ten years later, my dentist still tells me that the ol' wisdom teeth are fine. The upper teeth are completely out and give me no trouble at all. They're happy, wise, and full of love.

The bottom teeth are trying to kill me, but just once every couple of months. They know that I forget about the pain after that amount of time and then spring another operculum on me. An operculum, contradictory to its cute Latin etymology ("little lid"), is the most annoying and painful part of my wisdom teeth experience.

An operculum is that small part of the gum that covers the wisdom teeth. It is just indescribably irritating. When chewing or talking, I have to take care not to close my jaw too quickly or forcefully, or I will literally be biting my own gums. PAIN.

Because my teeth are generally fully out of my gums (after TEN YEARS), my operculums only happen when I'm stressed. My gums seem to swell and then contract, encasing my lower wisdom teeth and causing me grief for a couple weeks. It's like my wisdom teeth have decided to take about four steps back in their development. They refuse to just BE WISE or FULL OF LOVE and OH MAN THE OBNOXIOUSNESS.

I am currently stressed. My body likes to blare lots of distress signals at me when I'm stressed out: operculums, dark circles, ridges on my nails, inability to sleep ... all terrible.

I'm ready for at least one of those symptoms to go away, namely, the operculums. They are the most painful. And I think I'm ready to be wise now. I'm certainly ready for love. And I'm definitely ready to regain my normal habit of CHEWING.