What are wisdom teeth?
Your wisdom teeth, also known as your ‘third molars’ are found at the back of your gums. Most people have 4 wisdom teeth, one located in each corner of the mouth. They vary in shape but are usually flat. Wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to develop, emerging in a process called ‘eruption’. Usually, a person’s wisdom teeth will erupt during early adulthood, around the age of 20, though some people’s wisdom teeth never come through. Wisdom teeth cause a range of issues when they grow incorrectly, which is why wisdom teeth removal is such a common procedure.
Why do we have them?
Historically, wisdom teeth allowed humans to source fuel and grind tough food items, including plant tissue and meat. Today, we have the capacity to cook food and make use of utensils, to prepare food for consumption in a manner which is easy to eat. As a result of this, many anthropologists argue that we have evolved and wisdom teeth have become redundant. This may explain why some people never develop wisdom teeth.
Some scientists also believe that the diet and foraging process of our ancestors was more wearing on the teeth, meaning that wisdom teeth essentially grew as a replacement for other damaged molars. It is also understood that the skulls of our ancestors had larger jaws with more teeth to crush food.
Wisdom teeth removal:
Wisdom teeth do not always need to be removed. In the event a person’s wisdom teeth are healthy, have properly grown in, are positioned correctly and are not impacting negatively on a person’s bite, they do not need removal.
However, oftentimes, wisdom teeth do not grow through properly which places a person at risk of a range of issues. For some people, they may only partly erupt, meaning they don’t completely grow through. Others may get stuck, which is referred to as ‘impacted’, or they might grow too long, known as ‘over-erupting’. These issues can put you at risk of numerous greater problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, severe infection and alignment problems.
Wisdom teeth removal can prevent these issues, which is why it is so widely performed. Often these surgeries are undertaken in response to a range of symptoms indicating a need for removal. Sometimes, our dentists at Denta Service will take a number of x-rays to anticipate future problems. In this case, we may proactively remove the teeth before any problems have appeared. This is done because, generally speaking, younger people have a quicker recovery as the roots and bones surrounding the wisdom teeth aren’t fully formed.
Symptoms to look out for:
Some symptoms to take note of when considering whether you may need your wisdom teeth removed include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you can make an appointment to explore the possibility of wisdom teeth removal surgery.
In the event you need wisdom teeth removal, the process can involve a local anaesthetic or a general anaesthetic. It usually involves making an incision in the gum tissue to uncover the tooth, removing bone around the affected teeth and dividing your tooth with a drill before extracting it. The dentist or surgeon will then stitch the area closed to avoid infection.
After surgery, you may experience some bleeding within the first day, alongside bruising, swelling and tenderness in the face and neck. These symptoms are fairly normal but should subside quickly and most people experience quite a fast recovery. In order to promote healing, it is recommended that you limit practices such as eating, drinking and talking in the hours immediately following surgery.
You may also need to adjust your diet, as it is advised that in the week following surgery, you should eat soft foods, including eggs, mashed potatoes and soup. You should also restrict activity especially strenuous physical activity.
If you experience an increase in pain or swelling, excessive bleeding, a fever or a throbbing sensation three to four days after surgery it is important you seek prompt medical advice.
Alternatives to surgery:
If your wisdom teeth are causing problems, medications including painkillers and antibiotics can help control mild pain and manage the infection. Saltwater rinsing can also assist in maintaining the hygiene of wisdom teeth and surrounding gums. These options can assist in deferring surgery, however, they do not remove the need for it. This is because these options only treat the symptoms, not the source of the problem.
If you think you may need to have your wisdom teeth removed, give us a call on 94012120 or contact us here.