Wisdom teeth are molars located at the back of the mouth that develop during the late teens/early twenties. A molar is different from the “front teeth” (incisors, canines) because their history dates back to the hunters and gatherers. With a diet strong in nuts and raw meat, and without the proper silverware, molars were used to properly chew and grind down on these tough foods. In the 21st century however, our wisdom teeth are not needed as much, and can be swiftly removed with a simple procedure. The average adult has twelve molars, with six in the upper jaw and six in the lower jaw (not including wisdom teeth).
Where did the name come from?
Because wisdom teeth are the last teeth to form, the name comes from the fact that these molars develop later in life, at a time where people are considered “wiser” than their adolescent years.
Does everyone need to get their wisdom teeth taken out?
Not everyone will have to get their wisdom teeth removed. A few cases where you won’t necessarily need to get your wisdom teeth removed include:
- the wisdom teeth are healthy with no tooth decay or inflammation in the gums
- the wisdom teeth have grown in fully
- the wisdom teeth do not interfere with the normal functioning of your neighboring teeth
How do I know when I need to get my wisdom teeth removed?
Symptoms that occur when dealing with impacted wisdom teeth include pain and swelling in the region, but your dentist will be the primary expert who can let you know if your wisdom teeth pose an immediate or delayed threat. One of the most common reasons for extracting wisdom teeth is due to their inability to erupt through the surface, and hiding under the gums. Cases such as these can cause problems, such as the formation of fluid-filled cysts around the teeth, or jaw damage. Other reasons for extracting your wisdom teeth include:
- the wisdom teeth did not fully come in
- there is not enough room in the mouth for erupting wisdom teeth
- it is difficult to open or close your mouth
What is the procedure like?
The procedure and post-procedure practices will be explained before surgery, but it is always best to be prepared for what’s to come. Wisdom teeth extraction takes about 1-2 hours depending on how many will be extracted and it is completely painless due to anesthesia. Some cases require the dentist to cut through the gums in order to get to the impacted teeth, but due to self-dissolving stitches, there will still be relatively no pain (just a lot of swelling!) In order to help with all of the swelling, be sure to place an ice pack (or a pack of frozen vegetables) on the problematic areas to advance healing. Your diet for the next few days will involve very soft foods, such as soup, mashed potatoes, and our personal favorite, ice cream! In order to prevent a dry socket, or other problems, be sure to consult your dentist for the proper oral hygiene methods (when to brush, rinse, etc…). Also be sure not to drink from a straw because this can loosen blood clots that aid in the wound’s overall recovery.
Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a very simple procedure so have no fear! Contact us for any questions or concerns regarding your wisdom teeth or any other dental procedures.