Photography by George J Rockett
I wondered to myself as the anaesthetic wore off and I lay in my freshly changed bed that Monday afternoon – why do we even have wisdom teeth? One of those things that are never really answered, but pose a lot of questions. Are they there to teach us a lesson? Are we simply taking the teeth we already have for granted? For some people they come through pain free and without bother – but why? Luck of the draw? Could this be a metaphor for how we cope in the world, and how some people seem to endure the worst of everything, and others don’t?
I had to have mine out because even though they had grown through fine, they were impacting on each other and every time I bit down they chomped holes into my gums. So I got halfway there, they grew through okay, straight, clean, tidy. But then they failed on me. They turned out to not be the perfect teeth I had been so happy with for years, almost boasted in conversation as a young 23 year old – “oh mine are fine!” As I got older they turned out to well, not be fine. I soon ate humble pie when I was lying on the dentist chair having my mouth ripped open.
They give us wisdom, in weird ways we never thought we needed. The ability to teach us that life is fragile and can change at any moment, and the wisdom within learning how to take care of yourself. The wisdom to know that not everything that looks perfect on the outside is sustainable, and not everything is meant to work out for everyone. There isn’t really too much of a system on this planet. Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, and others are born into poverty, distress and lack of sanitation. None of us can really control that, our fate is much further than what we know. The luck of the draw with your wisdom teeth. A lottery we never paid for, but all receive cheques in the mail for.
It’s also one of those things that I guess we wished we knew how to stop. Like these absolutely useless teeth coming through right at the back of everyones gums, no one needs them and most people have to have them out. So why can’t we evolve enough to surpass the actual growth of these teeth? We’re so conditioned to just having to go and have them out that I think a lot of people don’t even spare a thought about it.
I’m not a baby anymore, at all. I’m twenty-seven (welp) and i’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life so far. But there’s always more to learn, and the older you get the more you realise it’s okay to be nervous, but it’s even better to take control of the situation. So I walked half an hour to the dentist – yeah I probably should have got a taxi but I think I needed the fresh air – and I went in alone. I came out numb from the anaesthetic but proud of myself for stepping over that little baby step alone. There’s a little video somewhere of a baby penguin trying to jump over a puddle that’s absolutely tiny. I often think about little achievements in life as that penguin, proud to jump over the tiny puddle without getting wet.
From being a sloppy teenager to a wired early twenty something, i’ve learned a lot about myself and while of course my family and George have given so much support along the way, i’ve overcome so many things I never thought I could. Being holed up in a bed for three days made me realise all of this stuff, and just how far i’ve managed to go into being not a young girl, but a woman. A woman who can walk to the dentist by herself and have her teeth removed despite the nerves. I think those days to myself were so crucial in helping inspire me to continue to make positive changes in my life. I’d lived with this wisdom tooth gum pain for about two years before owning up to my own future and going to the dentist for the news i’d been dreading, and even though to you they might seem like two little teeth – to me they were so much more.