What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Most people recognize wisdom teeth as the pesky molars that need to be removed and leave you looking like a chipmunk post-procedure.

From infancy to adulthood, our teeth erupt in stages. Our final teeth are our wisdom teeth which happen to be the third set of molars we have come in on both the upper jaw on both sides and the lower jaw on both sides. With age comes wisdom; wisdom teeth, for that matter. These molars were dubbed wisdom teeth because they’re the only set of teeth that come in during adulthood. Wisdom teeth typically erupt during late adolescence, between the ages of 16-21.

Why do we have them?

The strangest part about these molars is that dentists don’t quite know why we still have them. If they cause so many problems in our mouths from overcrowding to pain, why do we have them? Scientists theorize we have wisdom teeth because once upon a time, humans’ diets used to include more roughage and they needed the spare molars. Another thought is that wisdom teeth were replacement teeth that we no longer need anymore, and that’s why they can cause overcrowding. Plus, our jaws are smaller than they used to be.

While some people don’t have any issues with their wisdom teeth, other people can experience pain, infection, and other sources of discomfort thanks to these molars. Crowding is a particularly important source of discomfort because it can be the sign of other oral health issues too. If there isn’t much space, your teeth can become misaligned.

How can you tell if your wisdom teeth may need to be removed?

Though not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, there are some clear signs you may have impacted or teeth stuck beneath the gum and bone tissue, wisdom teeth.

Pain is the first sign there could be an issue with your wisdom teeth, closely followed by extensive tooth decay, damaged nearby teeth, cysts, and repeated infections of the soft tissue in the mouth near the molars. These signs are caused by partially erupted, impacted, or crowded wisdom teeth.

If your wisdom teeth have come in fully and they’re straight without overcrowding your other teeth, you may find you don’t need to have them removed. However, some dentists even recommend removing wisdom teeth before they’re fully formed while you’re younger so the roots aren’t fully too. This makes recovery much easier, and the molars are gone before they can cause any sort of issue.

What’s the procedure like?

Having your wisdom teeth removed seems like a rite of passage, but not many people know what the surgery will be like for them and what recovery looks like. Having your wisdom teeth pulled is a procedure where you can choose either laughing gas or anesthesia. Either way, you won’t feel the procedure, but with laughing gas, you will be awake. The most important thing to remember is to follow the aftercare protocol to help you prevent a dry socket. Depending on your pain tolerance, you and your dentist can discuss your pain management options for post-procedure discomfort.

The best offense is a good defense. Visiting your dentist on a regular schedule will help you prevent problems in the future.

Proactive in your dental care, we’re here to ensure you don’t have problems down the line. That’s why if you’re experiencing any kind of oral pain or discomfort, talk to your dentist today. Having a conversation with your dentist is the first step in finding relief from your pain. By scheduling an appointment, we can discuss the issue further and determine the best method of treatment.

About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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