Wisdom teeth can frequently lead to issues that necessitate their removal. Many people wonder about the purpose of these teeth and whether their extraction is essential. Below, we address some frequently asked questions regarding wisdom teeth:
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, emerge as the final set of adult teeth in the mouth. Not everyone possesses wisdom teeth, and some individuals may have fewer than four. For those with a complete set of four, two emerge at the upper back of the mouth, and two at the lower back. Typically, they begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25.
Are wisdom teeth necessary?
Wisdom teeth are no longer essential. Our ancient ancestors had them for chewing coarse foods like nuts and roots. However, in today’s smaller-jawed population, they have lost their functional purpose.
Why might wisdom teeth need removal?
Wisdom teeth can create problems due to the reduced size of modern jaws. Consequently, there might not be enough space in the mouth for them to grow properly. Dentists can identify potential issues with wisdom teeth through oral x-rays, even before they erupt. These problems can include:
- Wisdom teeth can become stuck in the jaw or under the gums, potentially leading to cyst formation and damaging nearby tooth support structures.
- Partial eruption: Wisdom teeth that don’t fully emerge can invite bacteria into the gums, causing infections and discomfort.
- Incorrect positioning: Misaligned wisdom teeth can trap food particles and foster cavity-causing bacteria.
- Overcrowding: Insufficient space between wisdom teeth and adjacent molars can hinder proper flossing. Wisdom teeth may also exert pressure on neighboring teeth, causing misalignment.
What is the experience of having wisdom teeth removed?
The process of removing wisdom teeth can vary based on the individual, but extracting all four usually takes less than an hour without complications. This procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis under anesthesia.
Following the procedure, it’s important to rest for the day and avoid using a straw for 24 hours. Strenuous activities should be postponed for at least a week, and you should begin with a soft diet before reintroducing solid foods. Additionally, refrain from smoking and avoid aggressive tooth brushing.
In contemporary times, wisdom teeth serve no meaningful function and often pose dental health concerns. Hence, your dentist may recommend their removal. An oral surgeon or a dentist with expertise in oral surgery can perform the procedure and address any inquiries regarding your oral health.