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  • Writer's pictureRobert Weinstock

Understanding Wisdom Teeth: Importance, Examination, and Removal

Updated: May 5

Understanding Wisdom Teeth: Importance, Examination, and Removal

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of molars to emerge in the back of the mouth, typically appearing between the ages of 17 and 25. While these teeth were once necessary for our ancestors who consumed a tougher diet, they often pose problems for modern humans due to changes in diet and jaw size.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Important?

Wisdom teeth serve no essential purpose in today's society. In fact, they often cause issues such as overcrowding, misalignment, infection, and pain. Many people's mouths simply don't have enough room to accommodate these additional teeth, leading to various dental complications.

Age for Wisdom Teeth Examination:

It's crucial to have wisdom teeth examined by a dentist or oral surgeon during the mid to late teenage years. X-rays can determine the position of the teeth and whether they are likely to cause problems in the future.

What Does it Mean When Wisdom Teeth are Impacted?

Impacted wisdom teeth are those that don't have enough space to emerge normally or develop properly within the mouth. This can result in them becoming trapped beneath the gum line, partially erupted, or growing at an angle. Impaction increases the risk of infection, damage to adjacent teeth, and discomfort.

Benefits of Early Removal for Impacted Wisdom Teeth:

Early removal of impacted wisdom teeth can prevent a host of potential problems. It reduces the risk of infection, damage to adjacent teeth, and the development of cysts or tumors. Additionally, removing wisdom teeth at a younger age is easier to perform and often leads to quicker recovery times and fewer complications.

Optimal Timing for Removal of Wisdom Teeth:

The optimal timing for wisdom teeth removal varies from person to person but generally falls between the ages of 17 and 25. During this period, the roots of the teeth are not yet fully formed, making extraction easier and reducing the risk of complications.

Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure Duration and What to Expect:

The duration of a wisdom tooth extraction procedure depends on various factors, including the number of teeth being removed, their position, and whether they are impacted. On average, the procedure typically takes around 30 - 45 minutes to extract all 4 wisdom teeth in the hands of a well-trained Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon.

During the procedure, you will be administered local anesthesia to numb the area, and in some cases, sedation may be used to help you relax. The dentist or oral surgeon will then make an incision in the gum tissue, remove any bone obstructing the tooth, and extract the tooth. Afterward, stitches may be placed to aid in healing.

Post Wisdom Tooth Extraction Care:

Following wisdom tooth extraction, it's normal to experience some swelling, discomfort, and mild bleeding. Pain medications and ice packs can help alleviate these symptoms. You'll also need to follow specific post-operative instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon, which may include dietary restrictions, proper oral hygiene practices, and avoiding strenuous activities.

In conclusion, while wisdom teeth served a purpose in the past, they often cause more harm than good in modern humans. Regular dental check-ups, particularly during the teenage years, can help identify potential issues with wisdom teeth early on. For impacted wisdom teeth, early removal offers numerous benefits, including preventing complications and promoting quicker recovery. If you're experiencing discomfort or suspect problems with your wisdom teeth, consult with your dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best course of action.

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