What are wisdom teeth and how did they get their name? Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars. They were named ” Wisdom Teeth” because they make their appearance between the ages of 16 – 25 for most people. The majority of people will have to deal with their wisdom teeth at some point or another. These teeth are sometimes troublesome teeth.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Third molars were necessary for earlier humans to chew and eat. Our ancestors had a tougher diet that we do. They ate things like leaves, roots and meat. The molars are the ” grinder” teeth in our mouth. They are used to mash the food into smaller, easier to swallow pieces. Since our diet has changed, they are no longer necessary. As a result of evolution over time, some people do not develop all the third molars. Some people are even completely missing all 4 of them. Of the people who develop the wisdom teeth, about 85% will have to have them removed.
As science progresses, our wisdom teeth are being researched. In fact, some researchers have found they can be used to produce stem cells. Other researchers are looking into ways to prevent wisdom teeth from growing at all. This will prove to be interesting in the future as science is always advancing.
Why Do They Cause Problems?
Over time, humans have developed smaller jaws than our ancestors had. Because of this, we do not have room for the extra set of molars. One problem that can occur is that as they try to make their way into our mouth, they crowd the other teeth. The can cause cosmetic issues like crooked teeth. It can also cause pain in the jaw or swollen gums in the back of the mouth.
Third molars can become impacted. This happens when the teeth are misaligned and there is just not enough room for them. This prevents them from breaking through the surface. This can be painful for the patient.
Another problem with wisdom teeth is that they are so far back, they are difficult to clean. The increases the risk of infection and tooth decay. For these reasons, Dentists recommend that they be removed.
How do you know if your teeth are causing problems? This is usually discovered during routine dental visits. But, if you have jaw pain or swelling in the back of your mouth, you need to make an appointment to find out what is going on.
Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Pulled?
Only your Dentist can answer that question. X rays will show how the wisdom teeth are developing, how they are coming in and if you will have room for them.
About 35% of the population do not develop wisdom teeth at all. This is possibly the result of evolution, since they are no longer necessary. Some people who develop them will not have any trouble at all. Your Dentist will decide if it is best to leave them in your mouth or recommend extractions.
What Do I Need To Know About Extractions?
Getting a wisdom tooth pulled is not fun. Getting them all pulled is even less fun. But, if your teeth are causing problems, it is best to address the problem before it gets too bad. Teenagers and young adults are very good candidates for the procedure, because the roots of the teeth are often not fully formed. This makes the healing and recovery time quicker and easier.
This is done as an outpatient procedure, but it is a surgery. You will receive either local anesthetic or a general anesthetic. You will be given post op instructions. If you follow these instructions, it will help speed up healing and avoid infection.
It is normal to have pain at the extraction sites and jaw pain / soreness too. You may be prescribed a pain medication for this. You will experience bleeding on and off for a few days, then it will taper off.
One of the most common side effects of this procedure is swelling. You may even look like a chipmunk for a few days. There can be bruising seen on your cheeks too. These will subside within a few days to a week.
Your diet should be soft foods and liquids for a few days after your wisdom teeth are extracted. You will be able to indulge in ice cream, popsicles and pudding! It is best to avoid chewing hard foods and gum. It is imperative to avoid using a straw. You will need to avoid smoking. Your Dentist will want to see you for a follow up visit to make sure your healing is on track.
Regular dental check ups can prevent tooth decay and catch other problems before they progress. Call us to schedule your check up soon!