A Word to the Wise

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A Word to the Wise

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties.

Wisdom teeth tend to come in sometime between the ages of 16 and 25, if they come in at all. Wisdom teeth are so named because of the time they appear, when people are supposed to be gaining some bit of wisdom in life.

There are two main theories as to why these teeth exist:

One theory is that, in ancient times, tooth loss was far more common due to decay or trauma, and so most people had already lost a tooth or two by the time they had reached adulthood. The wisdom teeth would then help fill the empty space that the lost tooth left, making for a more complete bite.

Another theory holds that in the past the human jaw was significantly larger with room to hold these teeth and as the human diet shifted, the jaw shrank though the teeth continued to form.

Why Wisdom Teeth Are Removed

If your wisdom teeth are due to cut through your gums, your dentist will likely suggest that they need to be removed. Wisdom teeth may cause you serious problems which is why it is often in your best interest to have them removed.

As the human jaw became smaller over time, wisdom teeth often do not have enough space to develop and align in a proper manner. Thus, wisdom teeth become impacted or blocked by the adjacent teeth. Sometimes, due to lack of space, these teeth only have the ability to erupt partially. When this happens, plaque and debris can become trapped in the soft tissue surrounding the teeth, causing gum disease and tooth decay. These issues are usually accompanied by severe wisdom teeth pain, swelling and jaw stiffness. Poor alignment of the third molars may cause other problems as well, including infection and the formation of cysts.

Erupted wisdom teeth may also affect the way your teeth bite together which can cause misalignment of the jaws.

To worsen the situation, due to the position of wisdom teeth, cleaning them can be awkward. Sometimes this difficulty in cleaning can result in tooth decay as well as a number of other issues that rear their ugly heads when teeth are not adequately cleaned.

Wisdom teeth are notorious when it comes to creating a whole load of issues, that is why it is best to simply avoid the drama and have them removed.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

Most dentists will suggest removing your wisdom teeth before they have erupted to avoid any complications. The process of removal is as follows:

You may be awake for the removal or you may be under conscious sedation – this will be decided on between you and your dentist. If you will be sedated, you will receive your medicine once you have settled in for the procedure.

  • Your tooth and tissues in the area of the mouth where the wisdom teeth are located will be numbed with local anaesthetic.
  • Before commencing the surgeon will test the anaesthesia.
  • This area will then begin to go numb. At this stage the surgeon will test the tissues by applying pressure to your gum, where you will feel a pushing feeling, but no sharpness or pain. If you feel pain you may need to have further anaesthetic until you can feel no pain in the area at all.
  • Any tissue, gum and bone that is covering the tooth will be removed with the appropriate surgical instruments such as a scalpel.
  • Extraction instruments are used to loosen the tooth from any connective tissue in the tooth’s socket. During this section of the procedure, you may feel pressure or pushing, however you will not feel pain as the tooth is completely numb.
  • Once the tooth has become sufficiently loose, the dentist removes it with dental forceps.
  • Finally, the gums will be stitched closed.

Once your wisdom teeth have been removed, your dentist will explain again his/her instructions regarding your recovery. Extraction wisdom teeth is a relatively straightforward process and by following your dentist’s orders once they have been extracted, recovery should be a breeze!

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