What You Should Know About Wisdom Teeth

teeth removal process

Our mouths are full of surprises, and wisdom teeth are definitely one of them. These are the four back teeth that erupt last, usually between the ages of 17 and 25, and they’ve earned the nickname “wisdom teeth” because they appear when we’re supposedly wiser (though that’s debatable!).

But do we really need wisdom teeth? Let’s explore these mysterious molars and see if they deserve a place in our mouths.

The Role of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth hark back to our ancestors who needed an extra set of molars to munch on their diet of rough foods. With our diets evolving and our jaws shrinking, these teeth have become less necessary. Sometimes, they fit into our mouths without issue, but more often, they’re like uninvited guests causing trouble.

When Wisdom Teeth Become Troublemakers

When wisdom teeth don’t erupt fully or grow in at an angle (impacted), they can cause issues like:

  • Pain and swelling: The pressure of an erupting wisdom tooth can cause pain and inflammation in the gums and jaw.
  • Infection: Impacted teeth are more prone to infection, which can be quite uncomfortable.
  • Damage to other teeth: Crowded wisdom teeth can push on nearby teeth, causing them to shift or become misaligned.
  • Cysts and tumors: In rare cases, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to the formation of cysts or tumors in the jawbone.

So, When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some wisdom teeth erupt perfectly healthy and cause no trouble. But if your dentist sees signs of potential problems during a routine checkup, they might recommend removal. Early removal is often recommended to avoid future complications when the jawbone is still developing.

The Wisdom Teeth Removal Process

If your dentist suggests that your wisdom teeth should take a hike, don’t worry. The process is a common one and is usually performed under local anaesthesia, sedation, or general anaesthesia, depending on your case and comfort level.

Consultation: Your journey starts with a consultation. Your dentist or oral surgeon will take X-rays to understand the position of your wisdom teeth and discuss the best approach for removal.

The Procedure: During the procedure, the area around your wisdom tooth is numbed, and any gum tissue covering the tooth is gently opened. If the tooth is impacted, it may be necessary to remove some of the bone tissue as well. The tooth may be divided into sections to be taken out more easily. Once removed, the site is cleaned, and the gum is stitched up, usually with dissolvable stitches.

Recovery: Recovery from wisdom teeth removal typically takes a few days. Swelling and some discomfort are normal, but your oral surgeon will provide you with pain management advice and possibly prescribe medication. You’ll be advised to eat soft foods and avoid any sucking actions (like using a straw) to protect the blood clot that forms in the extraction site.

Aftercare: Proper aftercare is crucial to avoid complications like dry socket, where the blood clot at the site of the extraction gets dislodged. Following your surgeon’s instructions will help ensure a smooth recovery.

While wisdom teeth removal might sound daunting, it’s a well-trodden path in the world of dentistry. Understanding the potential issues and the removal process can help demystify this common dental procedure. Always consult with your dental care provider to get personalized advice and ensure your smile stays healthy and bright.