Wrong: Pointless removal of random body parts

Hello! Can we have your liver?
Hello! Can we have your liver?

One thing the Americans are very proud of is the ease and effectiveness with which they can remove body parts that were causing their owners no trouble whatsoever.

One thing I am very proud of is my foreskin. I’ve had it since I was born and, at least up until the time of writing, it has not gone gangreenous and dropped off, or revealed itself to be harbouring Anthrax. Most American men, however lost theirs during their very first pointless removal of a body part. The Wikipedia article goes into some detail about how exactly this is removed. Those of you with intact foreskins and delicate stomachs may wish to avoid it.

Having escaped this first pointless amputation by not being born in America, I was caught full in the face a couple of months back by the traditional second wave of pointless body part removal. This began with a seemingly mundane conversation whilst at the dentist.

[I am flat on my back in the chair – my dentist is peering into my mouth]
Dentist: Ah-hum. You have some decay on the back of your ante-posterial pre-prandial molar.
Chris: Gar.
Dentist: [Strains a little] It’s really… hmm, it’s really quite far around the back.
Chris: Oark.
Dentist: Yes, as I thought, it’s really right up against your wisdom tooth.
Chris: Gung.
Dentist: Well, I think the best thing is probably to have the wisdom tooth out before I try and cap it.
Chris: Gout?!
Dentist: Once those are out, it’ll be easy to get at.
Chris: GOSE!?
Dentist: It’s really quite a simple procedure – I can recommend a great guy just down the hallway.
[Dentist retracts from my mouth, and casually steers me back to an erect position]
Chris: Do I really have to have them out?
Dentist: It’s really a very simple procedure. You’ll hardly feel a thing.
Chris: But… umm, I mean, is there something wrong with them?
Dentist: Look, I’m just talking about taking your wisdom teeth out, it’s really very simple.
Chris: Are they decayed?
Dentist: It’s all covered by your insurance.
Chris: How many of them are there?
Dentist: Three. They’re not under the skin or anything, so it’ll really be quite easy.
Chris: Just to get at this one tooth?
Dentist: Chris, really, pretty much everyone has them out.
Chris: Oh.
Dentist: It’s all covered by the insurance.
Chris: I see.
[The dentist reaches for his pen]
Dentist: I’ll write you a referral.

Obviously I realised that the dental industry had some sort of vested interest in this particular pointless body part removal, so I decided to raise my concerns with some friends. This is how this conversation went.

Chris: So, the dentist says I have to have my wisdom teeth out.
You’ve not had them out yet?
Well, no, I didn’t really think –
Man, you’re going to hurt for days.
Yeah, jees, you’re going to be sore.
Chris: Why did you have yours out?
Steve: Oh, years ago.
Chris: Not when, why?
Steve: What?
Ryan: They’re wisdom teeth, dude, everyone has them out.
Chris: Were they rotten?
Steve: I don’t know, I have them in a bag somewhere, I could look at them. They had bloody bits of gum stuck to them.
Ryan: You’re really going to hurt. I was eating soup for a week.
Steve: Yeah, I was off work for four days.
Ryan: It’s going to be brutal.
Chris: Steve, do you have a foreskin?
Ryan: Steve’s Jewish, man.
Steve: Are you being racist again?
Ryan: Why do you have to keep on with the Jewish thing?
Chris: Forget it.

So I went to the wisdom tooth removal guy. He quickly and efficiently removed my wisdom teeth. It cost somebody $1800. I hurt for a few days. He gave me a selection of Vicodin pills, which turned out to go very nicely with beer but created the mothers of all hangovers. Once all the Vicodin had gone I slipped into the silent mass of people in American who’ve had limbs removed on the advice of people they barely know.

I’m starting to realise how Bush got elected.

25 thoughts on “Wrong: Pointless removal of random body parts”

  1. Even though throughly American, I am still in possession of my wisdom teeth. The reason is because mine “broke” normally. None of them were jammed against any other tooth. Of course, I felt like a teething infant and found it hard to chew for weeks while the ever-wise teeth “erupted”. I don’t know if I am any wiser for their presence (I voted for Bush, twice), but at least I am still fully equipped – just like the day I left the factory.

  2. hm… I got mine out. Apparently there were reasons but I don’t remember them . I remember my insurance didn’t cover any of that. $500 a tooth. Thinking back about it, it still hurts!

  3. Before I was inducted into the wisdom tooth factory I had several molars (each just next to the trailing wisdom tooth) go bad (crack, split, break apart – no pain go figure). Within a year or 2 after having the remaining molar shards removed the wisdom teeth migrated forward eliminating the gap caused by the molar removal. I think this is why we have them come in later in life, to take up the slack in an adult’s mouth.

    If they aren’t bad, don’t have ’em removed.

  4. I have one wisdom tooth and it has to be removed because it is impacted and if it isn’t removed it destroys one of my molars.

    Be careful mixing vicodin with alcohol though; mixing the two can damage the liver, stomach and kidneys and can be fatal!

  5. @Funkmaster: Male circumcision does not equal FGM. The part that is removed from the male penis is not equivalent to what is removed in FGM. It’s more like removing the head of the penis, more like a partial castration. Not to say that that means that mandatory male circumcision isn’t wrong, just want to point out that they are SO not the same thing.

    @Ben: Now we’ve got a random internet guy making a tired “British people have bad teeth” joke. You’re like the first person to do that, like EVER. XD

    On the wisdom teeth front, I totally don’t get the deal with just removing them just “because” either. I had mine out because they were causing me problems. I had one that wouldn’t break out of the gum and was pointing sideways (pushing against the other teeth) and were giving me severe migraines complete with visual distortions and such. I even had those weird spikey shiny lines people talk about, I’d loose site in one eye because of them. No fun. πŸ™

    I think the reason they try to get everybody to have them out is because for most folks they do cause trouble. Our jaws have been getting smaller and smaller over the eons but our number of teeth hasn’t. I’m one of the few people in my family with a chin and I still had trouble.

    By the by, I’m jealous that the american health care system will cover wisdom tooth removal but here in Canada I had to pay for it myself. πŸ˜›

  6. @TheWeeJenny: Male circumcision is mutilation of the genitals. It reduces sexual sensation and pleasure for both partners. It is easily botched, creating painful or misshapen erections, and portions of the glans around the corona are frequently excised in the process. Further damage is done over the years by erosion of the normally-protected glans of the penis against one’s clothing, which additionally desensitizes it.

    How is that NOT a partial castration?

    Trust me, sex without a foreskin is not as good for either partner – and if you’ve never experienced an intact partner, you’ll never understand. Just like men who haven’t been with a woman who wants and enjoys sex will never quite grasp why the alternative is just plain UNINTERESTING to those of us who have, you simply have to be there. It will change your life.

  7. Hey TheWeeJenny: FGM is exactly equal to MGM when it is, and it isn’t when it’s not. That doesn’t make either good, but don’t compare rotten apples to grade A oranges. All genital mutilation is rotten.

    Even pricking the clitoral hood (to draw a ceremonial drop of blood) is illegal for 94% of the world’s females. Meanwhile, no country fully protects boys from having over half their sensual nerve endings and 15 square inches of adult sexual inteface amputated, in as haphazard or severe a fashion as suits someone’s cosmetic taste. Announce you’re mutilating your boy’s genitals and send out the party invitations. Nobody bats an eye.

    Most of the world’s FGMs (procedures involving the hood only) are less destructive than the average male circumcision.

  8. It appears you people just want to witter on about genitals, when everyone knows there is a wave of rogue tooth removal to discuss.

    I was unfortunate to have my sweater removed by the mohel’s wisdom teeth. This must surely explain why people run screaming from my poor mutilated soldier on the subway.

    Also, why doesn’t Caliban Darklock just cast a spell and restore all of our damaged foreskins. It is clearly more important than dealing with FGM…

  9. I had the same experience with getting wisdom teeth removed, but I was living in Sweden at the time. Apparently, it’s not just American dentists who are part of the “you don’t need them, so let’s yank them out even though they’re not causing any problems” philosophy. I can remember the dentist holding up these long, white, perfectly formed and undamaged teeth he’d just yanked out, while all the teeth he left behind in my mouth were a mass of fillings and crowns. Um, yeah, that makes sense . . .

  10. Thanks guys! Now I’m horrified that I’ve ruined my 15 year old son’s future sex life because I did what the doctor, my husband, and everyone around me considered perfectly normal the day after he was born!

    Regarding wisdom teeth: I still have all four of mine; they came in perfectly straight. I have noticed a cavalier attitude from my dentist about them though…he always tells me to brush and floss way back there until I’m gagging if I want to hang on to the wise ones.

  11. Lisa, I’m Swedish and no dentist has ever suggested removing my wisdom teeth. I find your experience a bit odd. But I suspect that maybe it was quite a few years ago that you had yours removed? My older sister had hers removed. At that time is was pretty standard to remove them before you turned 20 (just in case…) since up to that age dental care is covered by the tax payers. I am four years younger than my sister and those four years was enough time for collectively scratch their heads and come to the conclusion that “just in case” wasn’t that “wise”. Thus the national guidelines changed and I think few people these days have them removed. No “just in case”.

    My dentist still did a lot of work “just in case” just before I turned 20 though. Did me no favor I’d say. There was a big debate about this sort of thing among dentists around that time and I know that things have changed. My (now private) dentist has found no new cavities needing filling since I turned 20 (14 y.a) but I’ve repaired and changed plenty of old fillings.

  12. I like a penis with a hoodie. Uncircumcised looks strange and seems so wrong. I don’t understand why cutting off part one one’s penis is not questioned in America. I wonder why a lot of things are not questioned in America. I don’t understand people here (and I am American!)

    By the way, did you know that only 39% of Americans believe in evolution?!!

  13. -=-By the way, did you know that only 39% of Americans believe in evolution?!!-=-

    You know why fundamentalist Christians don’t believe in evolution, though, don’t you?

    (Don’t answer, you who voted for Bush…)

    Because it’s not happening to them!

  14. While I agree that circumcision does seem rather pointless (and a cruel thing to do to an infant…. or well, anyone), wisdom teeth sometimes do need to be removed.

    Mine need to be removed because I have a small mouth and they’re going to crowd my other teeth if they’re not out.

    As far as why people voted for Bush… they did it because they are STUPID.

  15. http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2006/niaid-13.htm

    ~50% reduction in getting HIV for circumcized men, although it’s a pretty new discovery.

    The root of one of my wisdom teeth was going to get tangled in the nerves for my face potentially rendering me unable to smile, chew, etc. I thought it was a good enough reason to have them removed, although the initial dentist reported the condition and observed it for about five years before doing anything.

  16. I appreciate seeing people who say “they are dumb and dont think”, when these same people also say it supposedly reduces sexual pleausure to have circumcision.

    We have women saying this, we have men who either are or are not circ’d saying this.

    My question to you is:

    Why do you say this when you dont own two penises, one circ’d and one not, to test it scientifically? Why do you effuse your baseless belief about it as if its fact, when the truth is you have never experienced one way and the other, and that sexual pleasure and sensitivity is going to differ on an individual basis?

    Have you ever considered that for some circ’ing increases stimulation, while for others it decreases it, just as something that is highly variable would do?

    Have you ever considered that where you get your facts comes from the same place as where people who have opposing belief get their facts? I.e. from pandering experiments that are determined to “prove” this side right and the other side wrong. Anyone’s belief in something on the basis of others subjective and whimsical opinions and not on the basis of personal experience is a load of crap.

    I like the subtle anti-Bush statements and comparing pro circers to Bush voters while Bush voters are considered stupid on some baseless arguments.

    In my opinion, you’re all behaving like Bush voters, if Bush voter is a synonym for brain dead idiots who follow like sheep and don’t make up their own mind but spew dogma without evidence. You are exactly the same.

  17. There’s some crazy yanks around, aren’t there?

    I can’t comment on teeth, as I’m English, therefore don’t have any, apart from the little squiggly black ones that fell out when I was 12, as happens with all British people.

    But I am the proud owner of 2 penises, one circumcised, & the other not: a happy circumstance of birth.

    However my mother is a Jewish Muslim, my father a Catholic.

    She insisted I be circumcised, as Jahweh/Allah has ordained it so in some books. My Dad insisted I not be mutilated & that easy oil-free wanking was good for a boy, & foreskins are more fun for a girl. He read this in another book, apparently.

    Happily, both their wishes were fulfilled. A US doctor was flown in & involved in one circumcision & claimed his $400. A Catholic priest was involved in examining my other one for 30 minutes in private & declared it didn’t need circumcising.

    I have never had HIV, as I resort to a practice called ‘washing’ on my uncircumcised penis. The other one must clean itself when I have sex with ladies, all of whom have declared themselves doubly satisfied with my performance.

    BTW, who is ‘Bush’?

  18. Well….as a septic who lives here in Britain, the last thing I want to get lectured on from a Brit is teeth. I go religiously to the dentist every six months for an exam and a cleaning, and I am very pleased with the dental care I receive here in England. But…they always seem surprised that I take such an interest in my dental health as if it is some curious, silly American thing. Yes, I floss a couple times a day, and yes, I had my wisdom teeth out because frankly, I didn’t need them, and all they would have done was cause my teeth to crowd, and would have undoubtedly caused MORE visits to the dentist, fillings, drilling and other unpleasantries. Perhaps to the average Brit, a once a decade visit to the dentist being the apparent norm, that’s ok. Not for this Yankee. Dental health van have major impact on cardiac health as well, or don’t they teach that in secondary school over here?

    As for my foreskin, I agree. I wish I still had it, but nobody was listening to me when I was two days old. As my wife (a woman and a nurse) likes to say, “Oh, it didn’t hurt you, and besides, I have taken care of way too many men who don’t know how to care for their foreskin properly…all that cheese and nastiness.” Somehow, I like to think I would have figured it out.

    Ok, so you’re one for two on this topic, IMO. Who loves ya baby? πŸ™‚

  19. I had ONE pulled… but it was broken in 3 by a hockey puck when I was, like 19. Lucky for me I’m too poor to worry about pointless removals as such. And having lazy cheap ass parents prevented me from the infantile shame of a circumcision. No complaints from the ladies yet!! πŸ˜€

  20. Some really dumbass comments on here. As a victim of circumcision done to me without my informed consent at 14, I know with 100% certainty it destroys sexual pleasure. I have experienced both.

    To the people saying FGM is worse, you couldn’t be more misguided. The most common form of FGM is type 2, making up 90% of FGM worldwide. This partial or total removal of the glans clitoris and/or partial or total removal of the hood. There is an unsubstantiated, urban myth that the glans penis is equivalent to the glans clitoris. Wrong. They are anatomical analogues but NOT sensory equivalents. A woman can have her glans clitoris cut off, still enjoy penetrative sex through stimulation of the vaginal canal and still orgasm (a study found 85% of FGM victims were able to reach orgasm). In contrast, the male foreskin is where virtually all sexual sensation comes from. The glans penis is almost sexually insensitive; its importance is as a source of rigidity and to allow the foreskin to move back and forth during sex. 95% of the glans surface is protopathic and this has been established via a neurological analysis.


    “The glans penis is primarily innervated by free nerve endings and has primarily protopathic sensitivity [43]. Protopathic sensitivity refers to cruder, poorly localized feelings (including pain, some temperature sensations and certain perceptions of mechanical contact) [44]. In the glans penis, encapsulated end-organs are sparse, and found mainly along the glans corona and the frenulum [43]. The only portion of the body with less fine-touch discrimination than the glans penis is the heel of the foot [45]. ”

    So essentially all the stretch reception and nearly all light-touch reception is in the foreskin. It is the stretch reception of the ridged band which provides most of the pleasure and this is cut off in all circumcisions.

    The people who are saying FGM is always worse are simply parroting unsubstantiated media and feminist myths. Society is very gynocentric and always sees the same bad thing done on women and girls as worse than when it’s done to men and boys.

    These touch tests also prove the destruction in sensation:



    The fact is, the people saying type 2 FGM is worse than MGM can’t back this statement up with any scientific evidence. There have been no studies demonstrating that type 2 FGM is more damaging sexually than MGM. All we have is assertions without any back-up. These claims can be logically debunked as we know the foreskin is where almost all pleasure comes from on the penis, while we also know the glans clitoris is only one component of sexual pleasure for a woman, that the vaginal canal is highly pleasurable during penetrative sex.

    So the people saying FGM is like cutting the penis off are obviously wrong. If type 2 FGM were like cutting the penis off, these women wouldn’t be able to have sex. But they can, and they can enjoy it. A man with no ridged band, no frenular delta and no frenulum ,like myself, has no ability to receive sexual sensation. All he can do is ram his numb dildo in a vagina very quickly, trying to stimulate scar tissue in the frenular region in order to try to induce a weak ejaculation. I can’t even have a proper orgasm as all the important tissue is gone.

    You people really need to educate yourselves.

  21. I’m 71. If I had listened to any of the quack dentists I have gone to earlier in my life, I wouldn’t be chewing on natural teeth now. Unless you have a SERIOUS problem with your wisdom teeth, DO NOT have them removed. If your dentist suggests removing nonproblematic wisdom teeth, find a new dentist.
    Regarding MGM versus FGM, instead of pointless yammer, study the innervation of the prepuce as L. Newman above has done and you may discover that it contains a little over half of the stimulatory neurons which, after religious mutilation,are largely confined to the glans. Steve’s relatives disparage and suppress any such results much as a new justification for the mutilation is introduced ~every generation by the same people.
    The last such ‘proof’ I saw was a comparison study between geographically close populations in Africa of whom one was largely nonmutilated and one was largely mutilated claiming that AIDS was much lower in the mutilated population without pointing out that the mutilated population was Islamic with strong prohibitions on promiscuity and homosexuality. Fact is, mutilated males are more subject to STDs than nonmutilated males as is occasionally reported in difficult to find studies, even those published in the NEJM. The African study was conducted by Steve’s relatives.
    Regarding Steve’s relatives directly, they have proven themselves to be the most racist people on this sad planet, head and shoulders above the national socialists.

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