Written by Danica Lacson on October 2, 2018
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of teeth to erupt. The first set of teeth to develop are the primary or baby teeth which begin to break through the gums around six months of age. Permanent or adult teeth are the second set of teeth to form.
Between the ages of 17 and 25 (or later years), wisdom teeth begin to erupt at the back of the mouth.
Why do Wisdom Teeth form?
The thing about wisdom teeth is that they do not form in the womb, unlike the primary and permanent teeth which have their buds form in the womb.
Studies have suggested that evolutionary factor led to the formation of the wisdom teeth. As our ancestors resorted to eating hard nuts, berries, meat, leaves, and other coarse foods, wisdom teeth were their aid in eating.
But, with the discovery of fire and advancement of technology, the need for wisdom teeth in eating is not as vital as it used to.
How do Wisdom Teeth develop?
Wisdom teeth develop in one of five ways:
- Vertical that is generally correct and like the development of other teeth in the mouth.
- Mesioangular or Mesial which is crooked toward the front of the mouth
- Distoangular or Distal which is crooked towards the back of the mouth
- Horizontal that is at 90-degree angle and laying on its side
- Failure to completely break through the gums or never developing
Does everyone have Wisdom Teeth?
Only 35 percent of people do not have wisdom tooth. According to some theories, this is due to the evolution of the jaw structure. Those who lack wisdom tooth are said to have more evolved jaws.
Other claims linked the non-development of wisdom teeth on ethnicity, pointing to indigenous Mexicans who never had wisdom tooth.
Do I have to have my Wisdom Teeth extracted?
Although wisdom teeth can still be valuable assets to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, 85 percent of these teeth must be extracted because of complications like misalignment.
Why should I have my Wisdom Teeth extracted?
Unlike our ancestors, present-human beings have smaller jaws that make housing a third set of molars difficult and eventually cause incorrect development and significant pain.
Our jaws are small and can usually hold 28 teeth which are less than the number of teeth that develop. Because of this, the spacing may become an issue. When the wisdom tooth erupts and space is inadequate to accommodate it, it will get stranded against the tooth located in front of it and result to an impacted tooth.
What is an impacted tooth?
An impacted tooth is a tooth which has not erupted or broke through the gum when expected due to various including the lack of space to break in. This dental condition usually affects the wisdom tooth.
What happens if my tooth is impacted?
When a tooth is impacted, it is enclosed within the soft tissue and the jawbone, or only partially break through or erupt through the gum. A partial eruption of the wisdom tooth through the gum can lead to swelling or soreness called pericoronitis.
Aside from the pain, it can cause, an impacted tooth is more prone to infection as it allows an opening for bacteria to enter. It can also lead to tooth decay, gum disease, jaw stiffness, and general illness.
How should I know if I need an extraction of my Wisdom Teeth?
To know the position of your wisdom teeth, you can visit your dentist for an X-ray to evaluate the presence and alignment of the teeth. Through the checkup, your dentist or oral surgeon can recommend an extraction. Early extraction is advised to prevent complication and for easier removal, because roots are less developed and bone is less dense.
How is a Wisdom Teeth extraction done?
A fully-erupted wisdom tooth can be extracted like any other tooth. However, a wisdom tooth positioned underneath the gums and embedded in the jawbone will need an incision into the gums and a removal of the portion of the bone that lies over the tooth.
- A tooth extraction often begins with a dental X-ray to properly see the location of the tooth to be extracted and the circumstances that must be noted.
- Your dentist will then review your medical and dental history. Patients are advised to inform their dentists of any medical condition or medications they are currently taking so as to prevent complications in the surgery and for the dentist to create a treatment plan suited for the health conditions of the patient.
- An anesthesia will then be administered. The use of anesthesia is to numb you from the pain that may go along with the tooth extraction. Also, an anesthesia will be helpful in relaxing you especially if you have dental fear.
- After the extraction, you will be asked to bite on a piece of gauze. Post-operation instructions will be given to you. Since anesthesia is involved in the procedure, it is advised that you stay at the dental office until the effect of the anesthesia wears off.
After the extraction, bleeding and face swelling may be experienced in the first 24 hours. Pain medications may also be prescribed, as well as antibiotics.
Food restrictions may be imposed and limited to a liquid diet until the numbness from the anesthesia wears off. In the next days, soft foods are recommended.
Proper oral hygiene must be observed with extra care in the area where the wisdom tooth was extracted.
Possible Side Effects of a Wisdom Teeth Extraction
- Risks, such as stroke and heart attack, that comes along with the use of anesthesia especially more than the required the amount
- Dry socket or the painful inflammation in the extracted area which comes after a tooth extraction
- Possible nerve damage which may cause loss of taste, numbness, and other dental problems
- Prolonged loss of feeling in other parts of the oral cavity like the cheek, lip, and tongue
- Damage to other teeth or dental works previously done
- Jaw fracture especially if the extraction involved bone removal
- Painful bone fragments
Recovery Tips after a Wisdom Teeth Extraction
- Eat soft food or liquid meals while the extracted area is still tender and painful. Avoid too hot or too cold foods as the extreme temperature can trigger the area's sensitivity.
- Get plenty of sleep for better immune system that can lead to faster healing process.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers according to your dentist's recommendation and prescription.
- Relieve swelling with an ice pack.
- Avoid using straws to drink as the pressure can cause pain and can also lead to dry socket.
- Take a rest as strenuous activities are not ideal for the body after a surgery.
- Take caution when brushing your teeth.
- Be attentive to any abnormalities or symptoms. Immediately inform your dentist of any abnormalities or symptoms to get treatment as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.