Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wisdom Teeth (and general ugliness)

I had my wisdom teeth out the day Princess Diana died. All four teeth, while in college, with my roommate home on break. I had friends Paul and Gaby bring me there and bring me home. The actual operation wasn't so bad... an IV anesthetic, preceded by giggly gas... I did at one point hear my teeth being yanked or crushed, though I was only very barely conscious. I went home with my Mepergan pain killers and my Ensure drinks (which I was truthfully told would be all I would want to eat for awhile). I upchucked a stomach-full of blood (not my first bloody surgery), took my pills (which made me sick so much I didn't use them further) and passed out from 4pm until 1am. I was greeted on the television by George Clooney telling me that the princess of whales was dead. Now... in the state that I is was in (Georgia 1997, LOL)... I took that at face value and surely thought I would soon see the expected National Geographic tribute specials and be told about how I needed cut up my soda pack plastic, etc. But no it wasn't any species of whale and I quickly lost interest... which brings me to this:

Should people have their wisdom teeth removed... and more generally, should cosmetic and intrinsic flaws be corrected by man or nature?

I'll tell you the pain of recovery (which took a year fully) was about as annoying as continuously having the teeth break through my gums and then to have my gums try to heal up over them. Though I looked forward to kissing a girl and not be scared of having a wisdomy teethy mouth. In the long term it made MY life better.... but for humanity's sake it was a selfish act and will keep future generations in pain. You see... if someone hadn't been born into 'modern' society thousands of years ago.... they would have had to deal with it naturally... perhaps getting impacted teeth, infection, and dying. If he had been lucky in the genetic lottery and gotten smaller or no wisdom teeth at all... well than that good trait would have evolved.

The problem is society outraced nature and we ended up in an eddy of being neither here nor there as far as it being a good trait. In ancient time I have no doubt that we had bigger jaws... but also by the age of 16 had probably lost a molar or 2. I mean we get 2 sets of teeth already.... I think of the wisdom teeth as a last ditch effort to give a caveman some useable choppers. But what happened was... I don't know. Perhaps bigger cavemen met smaller cavemen and there was a disconnect in jaw sizes. I'm leaning more towards people living healthier lives, as society and written history came into existence. People's teeth lasted longer and they didn't need a spare set of molars anymore. But this happened far too quickly for genetics and natural selection to deal with. They would have eventually course corrected via death of people with infected teeth, and procreation for people with bigger jaws or smaller teeth or eventually no wisdom teeth at all. But something else 'bad' happened that stopped evolution in its tracks... people and society could now medically (or otherwise) deal with this scourge of painful teeth. Just yank them out and get your lollipop. Done and done, right? Nope... here comes the next part:

Fixing that which is broken in human physicality and not passing that fix on is bad long term

By fixing the teeth problem you allow a man and women who both had super, giant, ridiculously badly engineered wisdom teeth to mate without ever knowing that the other one was carrying this flaw. 9 months later a bouncing baby bad-ass is born, who will doubly suffer later in life through his parents fixing themselves in a non-genetic manner. If the teeth had been removed through thousands of years of evolution (or modern gene manipulation)... than every child that baby had will no longer have to suffer. The amount of pain in the world would be drastically reduced on a planetary scale... whether thats good, I don't know (in the sense that sometimes you learn through suffering or adversity). But this doesn't just apply to teeth.

The cosmetic and the intrinsic

Bigger boobs, perfect noses, straight teeth... these are cosmetic flaws that people perfect through surgery and devices. Cancer, liver failure, chronic diseases.... these are intrinsic flaws that medicine tries to deal with. Both good in the short term and both lead to suffering for society at large. Flaws can be amplified if both parents have the flaw and both have hidden or otherwise dealt with it. If only these fixes were on a genetic level.... think of the suffering that would disappear. From the minor suffering of being an awkward teen in braces to the horrible suffering of dying before your time. These could be wiped out, forever. Of course... you don't want everyone with the same nose, same smile, same hair and same skin color. It would be creepy and just plain boring. But certain baseline 'ideals' could be strived for... then minor cosmetic fixes could be applied. It would still be a 'lie' to a degree.... but a much smaller lie. As far as disease go... we don't need a baseline... just get rid of them. Now yes, some diseases may carry beneficial genetic traits along for the ride... so careful study should be made. Baby/bath-water... you get the point?

Yeah, what is the point?

I dunno... marry the ugliest, average, most unhealthy person you can stand? Hah... OK, not that... I guess I just hate the lie of perfection that society has given us and the huge amounts of past and future suffering that could be avoided if everyone truly were more 'perfect'. OK, 2 rants 1 day... done for now.

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