Have you ever wondered why we have wisdom teeth? Or what is an impacted wisdom tooth? Or whether or not you need to have your wisdom teeth extracted? If you asked yourself any of those questions, then you’ve come to the right place for the answers. In this post, you will learn what you need to know about wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars, the teeth found at the very back of the mouth. These teeth first appear long after the rest of the adult teeth are established. Most people’s wisdom teeth break through the gum line in their late teen years or early twenties and can cause varying degrees of discomfort when they do appear.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Historically, our ancestors would have had a use for an extra set of molars for grinding and chewing food that was raw and hard to tear. Many anthropologists believe that this is why most people still have wisdom teeth, even though the food we consume no longer requires an extra set of teeth. Interestingly, not everyone has wisdom teeth.
Why do wisdom teeth sometime grow crooked?
There are many cases where wisdom teeth grow straight and don’t need to be extracted. However, frequently wisdom teeth can erupt on an angle and on rare occasions completely sideways, pushing on other teeth, which can cause pain or discomfort eventually leading to an infection.
What happens when wisdom teeth are misaligned?
When wisdom teeth grow in crooked, there is a high probability that they can negatively affect the teeth surrounding them. What that means is that the misaligned tooth could cause crowding, damage to adjacent teeth, or even jaw and nerve damage. It’s best to professionally remove wisdom teeth that pose a threat to the health of the rest of the mouth.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth is one that isn’t able to break through the gum line because other teeth are blocking it. There is not enough room for the wisdom tooth to erupt, and this can result in significant discomfort or even severe pain. If the impacted wisdom tooth does manage to push through the little space it has before it is extracted, it can cause gum damage, infection, and damage to the jawline or other teeth.
How are wisdom teeth removed?
Each case is different, and the simplicity of the procedure depends on how developed the tooth is, whether or not it has broken through the gum line, and how much damage it has caused to the rest of the mouth. Your dentist will describe your specific situation to you, thoroughly explaining what you can expect during the procedure.
Wisdom teeth that have broken through the gum line are easily extracted, which is why your dentist may choose to wait until this has happened. One of the most challenging extraction procedures is when the wisdom tooth is embedded in the bone as this requires the tooth to be removed in different parts. A local anesthetic will be administered to the area of the mouth being operated on.
How long does it take to recover after a wisdom tooth is removed?
Recovery time varies from person to person, with a full recovery taking anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. During this time, it’s important to follow the directions given to you by your dentist very carefully and to avoid aggravating the area or ruining stitches with harsh foods, drinks, and suction. If non-dissolving stitches are used, they will be removed approximately one week after the procedure. Your dentist will schedule a checkup with you to see how well you are healing not long after the procedure is done and will update you with your progress.
Want to see a dentist?
If you have other questions about wisdom teeth or would like the advice of a leading dental professional, contact our office at
905-635-1100 to schedule your appointment.