Extracting the wisdom teeth is a very common procedure. In fact, removing these back molars can almost be viewed as a “rite of passage” for teenagers, as it is most often performed between the ages of 17 and 21. However, not every teen or young adult undergoes wisdom teeth removal – which begs the question, why do some of us need them out and others can leave them in?
Do Wisdom Teeth Serve a Purpose?
Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars to emerge in the back of the mouth. Unfortunately, these four teeth provide little to no functional benefit for the average person of our current day and age. Although some believe that the wisdom teeth served a greater purpose in the ancient era, when diets included roots, raw meat and fibrous plants that required more molars for grinding food. Today, however, we tend to consumer softer foods. When we combine a softer diet with the fact that we also have smaller jaws than our ancestors, there is a much less chance of needing our wisdom teeth and a greater chance of problems.
When Wisdom Teeth Do More Harm than Good
During your teen years, your dentist will use digital x-rays to keep a close watch on how your wisdom teeth are emerging. If it looks like there is going to be a complication, wisdom teeth removal is often recommended as a proactive or preventative measure. There are multiple reasons why wisdom teeth need to be removed, including the following:
- Impaction: This is one of the most serious problems for wisdom teeth. This occurs when the wisdom teeth don’t emerge through the gum line and get trapped underneath. Painful jaw cysts, misalignment and infection can result if the teeth are not extracted.
- Lack of Space: Wisdom teeth that are crowded in the back of the mouth can cause damage to neighboring teeth as well as be difficult to keep clean.
- Partial Eruption: Sometimes the wisdom teeth only partially emerge, which creates sneaky areas for bacteria and plaque to accumulate. Decay and gum disease become a major risk!
The Procedure and Recovery
Don’t worry; if you need wisdom teeth removal, you can expect a straightforward and minor oral surgery. With today’s anesthetics and sedation dentistry, the procedure itself is not painful. Patients typically return to normal activities and eating habits within a few days. You’ll want to maintain a soft-foods diet, get plenty of rest and avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and hot beverages for the first 24 to 48 hours to facilitate ideal healing.
Do you need to have your wisdom teeth removed? Don’t wait until painful symptoms present themselves. Call Smile Design Studios today.