The wisdom teeth are the 3rd set of molars and the last teeth to erupt into the mouth. They usually come in sometime between the ages of 17 and 25. Today, the wisdom teeth are best known for being extracted. And in some rare cases, this may require emergency dental care. This may cause you to wonder about the purpose of this third set of molars.
In most cases, there is not sufficient room in the jaw for the wisdom teeth to fully erupt into the mouth and become fully functional teeth. However, this has not always been the case. In the past, our diet consisted of very coarse foods as well as a good bit of sediment and sand. Eating this type of diet caused the teeth to wear away, leaving space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth. In addition, many permanent teeth were lost at a young age, also leaving room in the jaw. Lastly, the constant workout required to chew these coarse foods caused the jawbone to develop into a larger bone than it is today.
Today, our diets consist of a lot more soft, processed foods. And, improvements in oral hygiene make early tooth loss more rare. Lastly, our jawbones are not developing as large since they are not required to do the work that they were required to do in the past. For these reasons, in most cases, the wisdom teeth are no longer able to function as they did in the past.
When the wisdom teeth are not able to fully erupt into the mouth and become fully functional teeth that can be properly cleaned and maintained, they need to be extracted. If they are not extracted, they can cause overcrowding in the jaw and can leave spaces for bacteria to form. This can lead to future dental health problems.
A wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure that takes place in a dental or oral surgery office with the use of some type of anesthesia. For this procedure, a local anesthetic, oral sedative medication or I.V. sedation can be used. In some cases where complications may be expected, a wisdom tooth extraction can take place in a hospital setting under general anesthesia.
After a wisdom tooth extraction, NSAIDS or prescription pain medications may be used for relief. For most, the recovery period lasts only a few days. In rare cases, complications may cause the recovery period to last longer.
If you have questions regarding your wisdom teeth, talk to your dentist or oral surgeon today.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Hye Park, Green Dental of Alexandria