Wisdom teeth grow in the very back of your mouth behind your molars. They are considered your third molars and are typically the last four of your teeth to emerge. While they do not bring wisdom by any means, the term “Wisdom Teeth” was coined in the Nineteenth century because they are the last teeth to emerge and do so between ages 17-25 when you are considered much “wiser” than when the rest of your teeth emerged.
Wisdom teeth are believed to have been necessary a long time ago when human diets included much tougher foods than they do today. In those times, dental care was not common and when teeth fell out, wisdom teeth were essentially replacements for those teeth (they are known to push teeth in due to the way they grow in often at an angle). With modern oral healthcare, we no longer have use for these teeth, yet they still grow in. Unfortunately, there is not room in our mouths for these teeth, and they do not always come in straight like our other teeth. Due to this lack of space, issues often arise once they emerge such as:
-Increased tooth decay
-Cysts & potentially tumors
In other situations, your wisdom teeth become impacted, unable to emerge due to jaw bone or surrounding teeth blocking the way. This can cause more issues than emerging wisdom teeth as they are prone to infection and can cause severe pain and complications.
When it’s time to have wisdom teeth removed
Not all wisdom teeth require removal! Wisdom teeth are typically extracted when complications such as infection, decay, and discomfort arise. If you start to experience pain in the back of your mouth behind the molars, begin to notice crowding and other teeth moving due to lack of space, experience redness, tenderness and/or swelling around that area, it’s time to visit the dentist. As your wisdom teeth begin to erupt through the surface of the gums, it creates an opening for bacteria to enter into the open tissue opening the door for infection. The sooner you schedule an appointment after symptoms arise, the better.
What to expect at the dentist
As with other dental procedures, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination of both your wisdom teeth and surrounding teeth. Both digital and panoramic x-rays will be taken to determine the best course of action. If you and your dentist agree that the extraction of the wisdom teeth is the best course of action, an appointment will be scheduled for the extraction (unless enough appointment time was booked out to do so same day).
Wisdom teeth extractions are in office, outpatient procedures typically done in a dental surgical suite. Generally this procedure is performed under local anesthesia, IV sedation, or general anesthesia by a specifically trained dentist. The procedure typically does not take more than about 45 minutes to an hour depending on your particular situation but it may take a bit longer for you to be ready to go home. (Note it is often mandatory that someone else drive you home). After you are released, you will be given post-operative instructions and medication for pain if necessary. Some pain and swelling is normal and bleeding in your mouth on the first day is to be expected. Using an ice pack will help reduce both swelling and bleeding. Recovery time for most people is about 3-4 days but can take up to a week depending on your situation. Once you are feeling better, you can resume normal activity but avoid strenuous exercise, smoking, spitting, straws, and foods that could get stuck in the wound.
If you suspect your wisdom teeth need removal, Guilliot Family Dentistry would love to evaluate your situation and provide for your oral health needs. For information on our wisdom teeth extraction procedures, click here!