Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth

Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Although formally known as ‘third molars’, we know them as wisdom teeth. They are called that because they appear much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are presumably “wiser” than as a child, when the other teeth come in.

It is thought that wisdom teeth used to help us in grinding down plant tissue when the skulls of human ancestors had larger jaws with more teeth. As human diets changed, smaller jaws gradually evolved, yet the third molars, or “wisdom teeth”, still commonly develop in human mouths.

The wisdom teeth are the last to come through, at the back of the jaw.  They usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25 but can sometimes appear many years later. Today many people have a jaw that is too small for all of those teethand there may not be enough space for the wisdom teeth to come through properly.

Do wisdom teeth always cause problems?
Not at all. If a person’s mouth or jaw has enough room the wisdom teeth will usually come through and cause no more problems than any other tooth. As with other teeth, there will be some discomfort as they erupt through the gum line. This discomfort is temporary and will disappear once the tooth is fully in position.

What problems should I be prepared for?
For some people, part of the wisdom tooth will break through the gum while the rest remains covered. If this happens, they may suffer from pericoronitis, a condition where the gum may become sore and swollen. Food particles and bacteria can collect under the gum edge so take extra care when cleaning the area. Mouthwashes, special cleaning methods and even antibiotics may be necessary to help combat any pain and swelling.

Why should I take my wisdom teeth out?
Your dentist will evaluate your mouth, jaw size and eruption of your wisdom teeth. If a tooth is not causing problems, your dentist will not want to remove it.

Wisdom teeth are typically only removed if:

  • It is clear that they will not come through in a useful position because there is not enough room
  • You are suffering from abnormal pain or discomfort after the teeth have come through
  • You wisdom teeth have only come through partially or are decayed

What should I expect after a wisdom tooth is taken out?
Expect some level of swelling and discomfort for a few days afterwards. Usual pain-killers such as aspirin or ibuprofen will usually deal with any pain. It is best to stay relaxed and avoid smoking and drinking for at least 24 hours after surgery to make sure there are no bleeding problems. Your dentist may have used stitches to help the gum heal over. After a week or so, they may wish to check on the healing and to remove the stitches.

Are your wisdom teeth coming in or have they already appeared? Has your bite changed or do you have any popping or clicking when you chew? Do you suffer from pain or discomfort in the area of your wisdom teeth? Do you have any questions or concerns? We are here to help provide you information and guide you through what is most appropriate for your situation. Give us a call at 281-602-3940 or contact us today for a consultation.

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