Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to appear, usually in your late teens or early 20s, long after the rest of your adult teeth have been established. The origin of their name? This is the age when we begin to gain wisdom.
Unfortunately, in many cases wisdom teeth are misaligned and need taking out. Awkward positioning of wisdom teeth can damage nearby teeth, nerves and the jaw bone.
Wisdom teeth can also be impacted. This occurs when they remain enclosed within the soft tissue of the gum or in the jaw bone, or only partially emerge through the gum line.
Incomplete eruption of a wisdom tooth lets bacteria enter around it and cause infection. Another reason that impacted wisdom teeth are particularly susceptible to gum inflammation and tooth decay is that they are difficult to reach when brushing and flossing.
Wisdom teeth that only partially emerge or come in crooked can also lead to painful crowding.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
So, if wisdom teeth are so troublesome, why do we get them? Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth evolved historically because we used to need more chewing power to grind down a diet of hard, raw food such as roots and nuts.
Today’s diet of softer foods has made wisdom teeth redundant, and they are now regarded by scientists as vestigial organs that serve no purpose. In fact, some people don’t get wisdom teeth at all. For those who do get these teeth, the number can vary from one to four, and, on rare occasions, more than four, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
There is no known reason why the number of wisdom teeth varies from person to person, but one thing’s for sure, they can cause all sorts of problems.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction – An Important Procedure
In general terms, the human jaw bone has gradually become smaller with evolution, while the size of our teeth has changed little. This is the underlying issue with wisdom teeth problems – in many cases, there just isn’t enough room for them.
Wisdom teeth that have fully emerged can be extracted quite easily. However, impacted and/or misaligned wisdom teeth are a different matter. One of the most difficult extraction procedures is required when a wisdom tooth has become rooted in the bone, and has to be removed piece by piece.
Depending on the complexities of the procedure, anaesthesia for wisdom teeth extraction will take the form of a local anaesthetic, semi-conscious sedation or a general anaesthetic.
Recovery time after a wisdom tooth extraction varies from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on the intricacy of the procedure, the type of anaesthesia used, and how much damage the problem has caused to the rest of the mouth.
People aged under 20 have less developed tooth roots, so a wisdom tooth extraction before this age will result in fewer complications than would otherwise arise further down the line.
If you need further advice about wisdom teeth or on other aspects of dental healthcare, contact Sherwood Dental – Your Kitchener Dentist now.