What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are a third row of molars that most late teens or early adults develop. Often times, the incoming teeth can cause issues for your jaw or cosmetically can be an issue for your teeth. Through many years of evolution, the human jaw has become smaller, and because of a change in our diet, we no longer require these extra molars for survival like we might have tens of thousands of years ago. Many researchers claim that this evolution is the reason that about 35% of people do not even develop wisdom teeth any more. 

Why do Wisdom Teeth Cause so much Fuss?

Because our human evolution has caused a smaller jaw line, incoming wisdom teeth can result in a whole range of issues. Not only can they cause cosmetic problems like crooked teeth as they force themselves into an already full set of teeth, but this process can be uncomfortable and result in swollen and sore gums. Your wisdom teeth can really cause problems when they are “impacted” meaning there is either no room at all for them to come in or they aren’t aligned vertically so they grow in the wrong direction. This can be an uncomfortable process if it isn’t addressed early on. Even if your wisdom teeth come in without issues, they are so far back in your mouth that it can be hard to clean them as thoroughly as your other teeth, not to mention that you aren’t used to reaching your toothbrush back that far. This can lead to infection, gum disease, and tooth decay, all very unpleasant and avoidable pains.

How do I Know my Wisdom Teeth are Coming in?

There are a couple hints that your wisdom teeth are coming, like general discomfort in your jaw and gums in the back of your mouth, and this probably won’t happen until after the age of 17. However, the only way to truly know when and how your teeth are coming in is at your scheduled dentist appointment. One of the beautiful aspects of your yearly trips to the dentist are those dental x-rays that will be able to tell your dentist exactly where your teeth are coming in, what direction they are facing, and how much space you have to accommodate them. Most likely, they will work with you to create a plan for having them removed if they feel like these extra molars are going to cause you any cosmetic issues or physical discomfort. 

What Happens When I get my Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth removal is a very common outpatient procedure. Depending on your specific situation, you will either get general or local anesthesia, but this will be agreed on by you and your doctor before hand. The procedure could take up to two hours depending on how many teeth are extracted, and your recovery time will vary case by case. You will experience some swelling in your cheeks for a couple of days and will need to adjust your eating habits for a few days as well. Any discomfort probably won’t last longer than a week, and you will likely be prescribed a pain medication in the meantime. Your doctor will go over cleaning techniques for the affected areas, and it is really important to follow these instructions scrupulously to fight off potential infection. Often times, your stitches should either dissolve or fall out in a few weeks, though sometimes it can take longer.