The name “wisdom teeth” might sound sweet but if you have had those last molars erupting out, you would know they are anything but. The sharp pain you experience when they are erupting and the hoard of other problems and complications they bring make you wonder if they serve any purpose at all. Plus, all the scary stories revolving around don’t help calm your fears at all.
Here is everything you need to know about wisdom teeth so you can make an informed decision about them manage them well.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws in the back of the mouth. They are also the final teeth to erupt and they usually appear when the person is between 17 and 25 years.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Come Out?
If you have ever suffered the pain of wisdom teeth, you’ve wondered where these teeth come from. Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth were the answer to our ancestors’ early diet of course and rough food, which required more chewing power and caused wear and tear to the teeth. Our ancestors also used to have bigger jaws so these teeth were mostly useful and not a problem.
Today, however, diets have become softer and modern technologies like forks, spoons and knives have become common rendering these teeth useless. Our jaws have also become smaller because of evolution and so there is usually no room for these last molars to erupt.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Pain?
Although adults can have up to 32 teeth, our jaws have space for only 28 teeth to appear healthily. Hence, when these final molars appear, there is no space for them to erupt properly, which can lead to pain and other complications.
Impacted teeth are below the gum line and not erupted. This can lead to swelling and tenderness in that area. The tooth will be at an angle underneath the gums and may even push into the adjacent teeth, causing other oral problems.
When a wisdom tooth has partially erupted out of the gums but part of it is still covered, the area may become sore and swollen. Moreover, food particles can collect under the gum edge, which becomes a magnet for bacteria. This buildup of bacteria can lead to infections. This is usually a temporary problem and can be treated using mouthwashes and antibiotics. Once the tooth erupts properly, these problems resolve.
Is It Necessary To Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Dentists have long recommended the removal of wisdom teeth even if they looked healthy. Some dentists recommend their removal even before they erupt arguing that it’s easier to extract when they are not firmly rooted and saves other problems down the line.
However, recently many experts and patients are debating whether it’s wise to remove wisdom teeth if they look healthy.
The truth is, not all wisdom teeth require extraction. If there is enough room, the tooth usually erupts in a useful position and causes no more problems than any other tooth.
Although they do cause discomfort when they are erupting, it’s usually temporary and once they erupt, the pain subsides.
However, it becomes necessary to remove them if it’s clear that there’s not enough room for them to erupt properly or if they have only partially come through and are decayed – and there is a good chance of decay since it’s difficult to clean them. Moreover, it may be better to remove them if your wisdom teeth are extremely painful and it’s clear that they are causing damage to other teeth.
Is it hard to extract wisdom teeth?
Wisdom tooth extraction is usually a surgical procedure and it’s recommended that you get it done by an Oral Surgeon and not a General Dentist.
Whether it’s easy or hard to remove them depends on their position and shape of the roots. Your dentist will take an X-ray and will be able to tell you how hard it is to remove them. Impacted wisdom teeth are hardest to remove as they are under the gum line and are at an angle.
Depending on the procedure, your dentist will tell you whether a local anesthesia, sedation or general anesthesia is most suitable for you.
How To Manage The Pain Of Wisdom Teeth And Avoid Complications
Even if the wisdom teeth are normal and healthy, they’ll cause some discomfort and pain when they are erupting. This pain usually subsides in a couple days. You can manage the pain with Acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Plus, it’s highly recommended that you keep the area clean. Since it’s hard to reach the area using your toothbrush, you should either use an antibacterial or a salt mouthwash to rinse your mouth several times a day. This will remove bacteria harboring in that area reducing the chances of infection.
Hence, with proper hygiene and management of your wisdom teeth, you can avoid the painful procedure of extraction.