s the leading family dentist in Robinson, PA, we’re used to treating patients at every stage of life. From your first appointment when you’re just a baby to appointments as a senior citizen, paying close attention to your oral health can help maintain a beautiful, functional smile for most of your life. At Rosslyn Farms Dental Aesthetics, we know that caring for your oral health can feel like a big task, which is why we’re here to help keep you educated on all things oral health. Here, we’ll break down the ‘mystery’ of wisdom teeth: what they are, why so many people have to get them removed, and what you can expect from a wisdom tooth extraction.
What are wisdom teeth?
The Mystery of Wisdom Teeth with the Leading Dentist in Robinson, PA
We’ve all heard people talk about their wisdom teeth and the discomfort they may experience as they grow in. Your wisdom teeth - contrary to popular myth - do not ‘hold your wisdom,’ but rather are named due to the time in your life in which they appear.
You are born with all of your teeth. As you grow, however, so does your jaw and your teeth. Humans have three sets of molars - the flat teeth in the back of the mouth designed for grinding food - that appear over time as there is room on the jaw. Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that grow in during your late teens or early twenties. This is the time in your life where you will have gained a fair amount of wisdom, giving this third set of molars their name.
It’s not uncommon for people to have their wisdom teeth removed for a number of reasons (which we’ll touch on in a moment) because humans are evolving to not need their wisdom teeth. Before, humans’ diets consisted of uncooked roots and plants, nuts, meats, and other hard foods. These foods require more aggressive chewing and grinding that is now generally unnecessary because we have improved cooking techniques.
Additionally, we have evolved to have smaller jaws over time, making it difficult for the wisdom teeth to properly grow in. Because of this, some wisdom teeth never become visible. Even so, 53% of people have at least one wisdom teeth grow in during their lifetime.
Does everyone need to get their wisdom teeth removed?
Understanding the Source of Wisdom Teeth Extraction
As a leading dentist in Robinson, PA, it’s our job to keep track of the oral health of patients over time. This means keeping a close eye out for potential oral health issues, including wisdom teeth growing in. While some people get lucky and have their wisdom teeth grow in straight and with plenty of space, more people are not as lucky. There are a few cases in which wisdom teeth need to be extracted to avoid a number of oral health issues:
- Horizontal Teeth: wisdom teeth grow in and push against your existing teeth horizontally, making it impossible for the tooth to erupt and causing your existing teeth to move out of place.
- Angled Teeth: angled wisdom teeth can cause discomfort, shifts in your existing teeth, and small cuts on your gums and cheeks that cause pain.
- Impacted Teeth: wisdom teeth that are enclosed within the soft tissue or the jawbone, only partially breaking through. This can cause infection and be prone to tooth decay and disease.
These issues are especially common because the human jaw stops growing at around 18 years old, but wisdom teeth don’t stop growing until about 19.5 years old. Because these cases are so common, it’s often easier to remove wisdom teeth before these issues occur. This is especially common for people who may have already had braces or use Invisalign from a dentist in Robinson, PA in order to avoid the shifting of straight teeth.
What is it like to get your wisdom teeth extracted?
A Breakdown of Wisdom Tooth Extraction from a Dentist in Robinson, PA
Chances are that you’ve met someone who has undergone wisdom tooth extraction. Wisdom tooth extractions - especially when not erupted - are done with an oral surgeon rather than with a family dentist in Robinson, PA. Typically done before the tooth and issues appear, wisdom tooth extraction is often a surgical procedure.
Your oral surgeon is likely to begin with local anesthetic (like if you were getting a tooth pulled or a cavity filled) in addition to some type of sedative. The surgeon will then cut underneath the gum and remove a portion of the bone that lies above the tooth.
After surgery, patients are typically groggy and in some level of pain. The 24 hours following your extraction will likely include bleeding and swelling. Your oral surgeon will recommend icing, relaxing, and will likely prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable. However, you will get to enjoy a diet of soft foods like ice cream, mashed potatoes, and jello for several days.
During the first few days, it’s important to watch out for dry socket: a dislodged or unformed blood clot that can cause severe pain.
Wisdom teeth, while commonly extracted, are a standard thing to look out for as a dentist in Robinson, PA. If you’re looking for a great dentist for your oral health, reach out to Rosslyn Farms Dental today to schedule an appointment.