Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is That A Tooth In Your Pocket?: On Modern Dentistry

I have not been the the dentist in a few years. My last dentist was known by his patients as Uncle Allen, each of whom got to pick a toy out of the toy box at the end of their cleaning. And for a while it was fine. For some reason, I rather straight teeth, and thus never needed braces. I also don't drink many sugary drinks, and only sport one unfortunate cavity. Ah, but there's one thing that dental diligence cannot ward off:

Wisdom Teeth.

I remember a number of years ago Uncle Allen telling me I should get my wisdom teeth out that summer, though the subject was never brought up again. For the last few years, I've begun to feel my wisdoms starting to poke their little unwanted crowns through my gums, and I figured with all this spare time on my hands, I might as well go get myself some surgery.

Do you believe in coincidences? I prefer to believe in a Newtonian, mechanistic universe, in spite of what this movie would have you believe (again, thank you Mr. Devlin). There are many explanations, none of which you're interested in. As a point of coincidence or what have you, guess who my oral surgeon is? He's the father of one of kids from this summer, the father that asked for lesson plans while his kids were gone. Wonderful man, great kids. He's such a great doctor, that he even called me a couple times today after surgery to check up on me. Good feelings.

Down to the nitty gritty.

I have large teeth. I would have no way of guessing this, but it's the reason my 1.5 hour surgery to remove 4 wisdom teeth, extended to a 3 hour ordeal, in which we had to take a break. My top wisdom teeth are large. My surgeon told me that usually they're little pea shaped nubs that come out really easily. The harder ones only have 2 roots, and are still pretty small. My top wisdoms were the size of a dime, and had 4 roots, which I'm told is very unusual.

My teeth are rebels. Well, some of them. While most of them stand nicely in line, completing my winning smile, it would seem the oppression of conformity got to my bottom wisdoms. If you're lucky, your wisdoms will grow straight up. If you're unlucky, they start to grow horizontally into your other teeth, causing bad things. If you're me, your bottom wisdoms grow downwards into your jaw, requiring a bigger and even bloodier hole to be opened up.

Three hours later, all 4 were out. At this point I started contemplating the host of medications I had lined up. Of this list of possible medications a patient might need after surgery, I had all except one, bringing to the total to somewhere around 8 or 9.

One of them is optional: Percocet. I'm one that believes the unmedicated option is always better (since after taking environmental science classes, I've come to realize that it doesn't take a lot to kill you). I also don't want to be drugged out, as fun as it might sound. My one wish at the moment is to stop bleeding. As a fun little fact, I learned today from my surgeon that tea contains Tannin, which is a coagulant, and will help stop the bleeding. As a big coincidence, one of today's episodes of Law and Order (Criminal Intent: the inferior one) told me that rat poison is an anti-coagulant and is used by terrorists. Not as fun, but good to know.

On a lighter note, I'm not supposed to eat nuts for the next month or so. It was a long surgery, and I was under a bit of mental stress, and forgot where I was and who I was talking to. So, presented with the opportunity, I made some joke like: "Aww, no nuts? This will put a damper on my gay sex life." Not great, but it works. Luckily, my jaw was so well anesthetized that it came out more like: "Ahhhh, no nuns? Thistle Pooh hamper oh my gassy lie."

As part of my recovery, I'm not supposed to do strenuous things, as it will cause me to bleed out and stain the lovely things in my room I've collected over the years (like Ariel from the Little Mermaid, but without the musical sea creatures and baseless infatuation to strange men). Since both seasons of Pushing Daisies is streaming on Netflix now, I'm going to make my way through my second cancelled series of the summer (first was Firefly). But it wouldn't be me to simply sit around and watch TV.

And so, I introduce my next project of the summer:


Now before the judging eyes and granny-jokes get pulled out, there's a science behind it. Ever heard of hyperbolic space? Neither had I, but it's pretty cool. Here's an amazing TED talk about the intersection of math, science, and handycrafts.

Why crocheting? You might ask. Well, my brother for a while didn't have any interests of his own. Though this has since changed, we spent many weeks trying to find him a hobby of his own. One of these ill-fated attempts was crocheting, which my mother used to do. After a week of making squares and ridiculously short scarfs (absolutely unnecessary in Hawaii), he gave up.

I'm not terribly good. I know basic patterns and can make some nifty things, but I've always liked finding my own way to do things. So after I finish crocheting a little project for a friend, I'm going to try to bring science and crafts together. I need suggestions for science things to crochet. I've seen some nice periodic tables people have crochet, as well as a dissected frog:

I think I'll try to make a DNA double helix, perhaps some other polymers and molecules. We'll see. Suggestions are always welcome. Requests are considered. Demands are frowned upon. Death Threats are returned in kind.

So until the bleeding stops, I'll be turning into an old woman. Watching Pushing Daisies has also inspired me to make pies, so I might do that as well just to complete the picture. Anyone got a spare windowsill I can cool my pastries and hang my doilies from?

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised you got your wisdom teeth removed, Kelsey. I would've expect someone like you to just let them grow in, as there's usually no harm and it's free, too. But I guess you made the right choice if you said one of your wisdom teeth was growing downward into your jaw. You're just a freak of nature, Kelsey.

    Damn, that's a big tooth Kelsey.

    Uh, didn't anyone tell you it's a bad idea to do several drugs at once? Frankly, I was expecting you to just tough it out cold turkey :P.

    You sure watch a lot of TED talks :). I'd seen a few before, but now you got me watching more.

    What are your younger brother's interests now?

    Lol @ the crocheted dissected frog.

    Request: Please crochet a Rubik's Cube.
    Demand: Crochet a helicopter!
    Death threat: Crochet a sword or I'll stab fatally with one!

    Yes, please send your pastries and dollies to:

    Anthony Hsu
    850 Davit Lane, Harborside, Apartment 4-101
    Redwood Shores, CA 94065

    I will cool your pastries and hang up your dollies, guaranteed or your money back (postage costs included).