All About Wisdom Teeth

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Tales of wisdom teeth often sound like horror stories, but that’s not the whole story. In fact, wisdom teeth were once useful tools that helped ancient people chew and eat. Here’s what you need to know about wisdom teeth.

What are Wisdom Teeth? 

Wisdom teeth are the back most molars on each row of teeth, and they usually erupt between ages 17 and 25. They are the third molars, and ancient humans used wisdom teeth to grind up hard foods that were difficult to digest. Since cooking meals arrived, humans have outgrown wisdom teeth and most can be removed before they erupt without any effect on a person’s natural chewing pattern. 

Wisdom Teeth Don’t Always Need to be Removed 

Most people assume that wisdom teeth always need to be removed, but that’s not always the case. In fact, some people have wisdom teeth grow perfectly into their smile without crowding or issue. However, most wisdom teeth need to be removed before they erupt to prevent potential crowding problems. 

When Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed? 

There are many reasons to have wisdom teeth removed before they arrive, but they can only be discovered by a dentist using advanced imaging to assess the position and health of an incoming wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth need to be removed when they will negatively affect the health of surrounding teeth or the mouth. Most people that need their wisdom teeth removed have it done between the ages of 16 and 18.

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed? 

If there is not enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, which causes them to grow in sideways and is a reason for removal. Wisdom teeth can also push against second molars, pushing them out of alignment and making them more difficult to clean and susceptible to decay. Additionally, narrow spaces between molars can become more easily infected with bacteria, which raise the risk of periodontal disease, inflammation and decay.

Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Painful? 

Wisdom teeth removal is usually done under anesthetic, so the procedure itself is not painful at all. However, the recovery period after a wisdom tooth removal can be uncomfortable. Soreness, swelling and limited mouth opening can last anywhere between 1 and 4 days. A typical recovery period is dependent upon how impacted the incoming wisdom teeth are, how large the teeth are, and how deep they are when they are extracted. 

Is Your Teen Experiencing Wisdom Tooth Pain? 

If your teen is experiencing pain in the very back of their mouth, then it may be time to evaluate how their wisdom teeth are growing. Visit our office so we can evaluate their smile, and provide a treatment plan that will improve their smile and avoid any wisdom tooth pain down the road.