Freak of Nature

Those of you who have read Neal Stephenson's Crytonomicon may remember the side tale of Randy Waterhouse's molars.   A lot of the fun of a Stephenson novel is not the plot but the side expositions on everything from number theory to Cap'n Crunch.   This is perhaps doubly true of Cryptonomicon, whose plot is only so-so (hunting for Nazi gold, sort of) but whose prose and exposition are fantastic.  Anyway, in that story, one of the main characters has a problem with these horrible wisdom teeth that are impacted so deeply in his skull that oral surgeons have to run out and have 2-3 cocktails to overcome the shivers of malpractice fear they get from just looking at the x-rays.

Fun exaggeration in the service of fiction, until we took my daughter to the dentist yesterday.  My daughter already has a history of weird teeth.  She had to have oral surgery before she was 10 to remove a baby tooth that somehow never emerged and was up deep in her head somewhere, upside down or sideways or something.  So anyway, she still has 8 baby teeth in her head past their expiration date, and the orthodontist finally insisted they had to be removed.

No problem.  Baby teeth are a layup to remove.  Fifty bucks each says the dentist  (which caused us to give our daughter a financial incentive -- we told her if she could wiggle them out beforehand, we would pay her half, which she did with two).  Anyway, baby teeth are easy, no big roots, nature wants them out at this point anyway, etc.

And most of them were just that -- easy.  Except for one.  The dentist simply could not get it out.  The appointment went on and on, because the dentist kept running back to the x-ray to make sure she was really pulling on a baby tooth and not some adult tooth.

Anyway, it eventually came out, after much pain and suffering on my daughter's part.  One of her "normal" removed baby molars is on the right for comparison.  The Ripley's tooth is on the left.  It just sort of looks evil.



  1. Methinks:

    HOLY Sh......

    My mouth just exploded in sympathy pain. That thing was built to last.

  2. aeronathan:

    Wish I could say I'd never seen anything like that but unfortunately I had some really similar teeth yanked out of my head. Its a scary thing @ age 12 to hear the dentist say "OMG thats a big root."

    All in all I had 10 baby teeth and 4 adult teeth pulled before I got my braces. Then I had wisdom teeth cut out that the dentist described as "caveman teeth" before I got my retainer off...

  3. rob sama:

    Thank you for thoroughly nauseating me. I thought that was what Kim Crawford's blog was for, not Coyote Blog.

  4. Evil Red Scandi:

    I think that this is a sign that we need to devote at least 10% of our economic activity towards appeasing the tooth fairy or in 100 years we'll all wind up like this! I have a hockey-stick graph that says so.

  5. DrTorch:

    That tooth looks like it was exposed to Bruce Banner's gamma radiation.

  6. bearpaw:

    Please. Fifty bucks apiece? I am 63 years old and have 3 of my baby teeth, because they had no adult teeth beneath them. All of them are perfectly functional. Each of my three siblings also has one or more retained baby teeth. If they aren't bothering you, don't bother them. What's up with your dentist?

  7. James Barlow:

    Kill it! Kill it with fire!

  8. Danimal:

    Good lord that looks foul. My consolations to your daughter. Hey, at least you got your money's worth, eh?

  9. TakeFive:

    That looks like the Cthulhu. Or maybe one of its spawn.

  10. John Cheek:

    That tooth is not so odd really.One does not usually see the root because it is resorbed as the permanent tooth erupts.Deciduous(baby)molars have roots like that so the permanent teeth have a place to develop.Your daughter's tooth is somewhat odd though in that one of the roots is bifurcated.I have never seen that.JaC,oral surgeon p.s. 50 bucks is a pretty good deal and kudos to your daughter for practicing capitalism!!

  11. bud:

    My condolences to your daughter. My wife had a wisdom tooth that required major work, since the root was in a "J" shape, and actually hooked under the jawbone. We're talking slicing open the gums and (literally) a chisel.

    There is one consolation - we're both in our 60's and my wife's teeth are in much better shape than mine. Tell your daughter to keep up with the toothbrush and floss, and she'll have all her teeth long after her contemporaries.

  12. Mesa Econoguy:

    Dude, c'mon. Global warming.

  13. Esox Lucius:

    I was born without wisdom teeth. I also still have a baby tooth molar and I am 38 yrs old. My dentist looks at it in wonder every time I go in for a checkup. There was never a tooth underneath.
    My friend had 3 sets of front teeth. That was cool...

  14. David K:

    Sorry to hear your daughter had such a bad experience with that tooth.

    I had one removed about 17 years ago that my dentist could not get out for love nor money. Took an x-ray and all the roots were growing outward at such an angle(similar to your picture but at more of an angle and like hooks rather than arches) that he had to drill the h-e double hockey sticks out of to break it into pieces so he could pull out each section with one root attached. He said he had never seen roots like that in twenty years of practice.

    Not to play the internet machismo bit but I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. Despite that, I told the dentist afterward "It's a good thing that chair is made of metal because if it were made of anything else, it would have been in pieces the way I was gripping the arms". I'd never felt anything like it before or since.

    Here's hoping your daughter's next experience at the dentist won't be quite as memorable.

  15. Sackerson:

    A schoolmate once told me of a friend whose voice was very nasal. The lad later had two upper teeth removed, and the roots were so long they'd grown into the sinuses. He spoke perfectly normally after that.

    I guess that in the Great Deflation, the medical professions will hold up better than most.

    Merry Christmas!

  16. The Owner of the Horrific tooth:

    I would like to thank everyone for their kind and funny comments. It hurt like crazy to get that tooth yanked out! I cant believe so many people are entertained by a demented tooth. That's cool. And to anyone who thinks that the tooth it not that bad all I can say is YOUR WRONG!
    It is cool to be a blogger's daughter!

  17. coyote little sis:

    To all of you loyal Coyote fans out there, let me tell you that his daughter comes by her dental nightmare naturally. All of the Coyote siblings had horrible teeth issues, Coyote's being the freakin' worst. We were all spectacularly awkward middle school kids anyway, only to be made worse by huge, strange teeth. I think Warren had ongoing orthodontic care from the womb until he got that PU diploma.

  18. David:

    Ouch! That thing looks viscious - hope you feel better soon.

    Dr. David recommends some homemade applesauce - it won't cure anything, but it'll taste good and be a lot more pleasant than oral surgery...

  19. rosewing:

    shhhh.... think i had a bad teeth, but these really bad...

  20. Zach:

    That's not a tooth, that's a headcrab from Half Life.

  21. YOLO GUY:

    Wait. If that tooth had a big root, wasn't it an ADULT tooth?


    Don't know about you YOLO GUY but I think that the tooth was pretty weird for me.