What are wisdom teeth?
Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth, or the third set of molars, were the evolutionary answer to our ancestor’s early diet of course, rough food – like leaves, roots, nuts and meats – which required more chewing power and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. The modern diet with its softer foods, along with marvels of modern technologies such as forks, spoons and knives, has made the need for wisdom teeth nonexistent. As a result, evolutionary biologists now classify wisdom teeth as vestigial organs, or body parts that have become functionless due to evolution.
Wisdom teeth, which begin forming around your tenth birthday, are the last set of molars on the tooth-development timeline, so they usually don’t erupt until you are between the ages of 17 and 25. Because this is the age that people are said to become wiser, the set of third molars has been nicknamed “wisdom teeth.”
The procedure of wisdom teeth extraction
The older you get, the more difficult wisdom teeth surgery can become. When you are young, the roots are not completely formed and the surrounding bone is softer, which leaves less chance for damaging nearby nerves. Your roots will continue to grow with age, making wisdom teeth surgery more painful and prone to complications as you get older. Being well-informed will help reduce anxiety the day of your wisdom teeth surgery. Here are some things you should know about the wisdom teeth surgery process before you get started.
- Prevent Pain: If you are scared of the pain you may experience during your wisdom teeth surgery, don’t be worried. Your dental professional will ensure you are comfortable during the procedure by administering local anesthesia, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Be sure to discuss which type of treatment may be best for you with your oral surgeon prior to the procedure. This will also impact your ability to drive after the procedure. You’ll need to have someone pick you up if you will be fully sedated or under general anesthesia.
- Know Your Numbers: How long will it take, how many teeth will be removed, and how much will it cost? Knowing this information beforehand can help you prepare. Your procedure will vary in length and complexity depending on how many teeth you need to have removed during your wisdom teeth surgery. Cost will be dependent on your insurance coverage or the oral surgeon’s financial policies. Be sure to know this information and understand what to expect before you get started.
Wisdom teeth: to extract or not?
There is no “correct age” for wisdom tooth removal. Some people get their wisdom teeth at a young age, while some others get them in adulthood. But if you need to remove wisdom teeth, it would be better to take them out younger because the healing process would be a bit quicker. However, if you’re in your 40s with all your wisdom teeth and they cause no oral health complications, taking them out is not necessary. If you’re unsure, you should see a dentist to get a proper wisdom tooth examination and treatment plan.
It’s not necessary for you to get your wisdom teeth removed, if they are correctly positioned in your mouth and do not cause any pain or dental problems. If they are impacted and/or cause crowding in your teeth, a dentist will recommend that you have them removed. There are two ways wisdom teeth may grow:
- Growth like regular teeth (Vertical and Partial Eruption)
- Growth which impacts (Horizontal, Angular)
Impacted wisdom teeth are blocked from growing properly. They typically remain below the surface of your gum line and lie horizontally instead of standing upright like they are supposed to, mostly because there isn’t enough room for them to grow. Sometimes they sprout out sideways and towards another tooth. Keeping an impacted wisdom tooth that slightly sprouts can be difficult to keep because it can be a place for plaque and bacteria to accumulate