Molars are the most powerful teeth in your mouth. Although most adults easily accommodate two sets of molars, the third set — known as wisdom teeth — are vestigial teeth that don’t fit and don’t really have a function. We may have needed wisdom teeth in our evolutionary past, when we ate diets filled with meats and hard tubers that required lots of chewing.
Between dietary changes and mutations, however, our jaws have become smaller over time and no longer have space for wisdom teeth. Most wisdom teeth erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. Most people have four wisdom teeth: one on each side in your upper jaw and one on each side in the lower jaw.
At Le Dentistry & Associates in Norcross, Georgia, our providers remove wisdom teeth with the advantage of sedation dentistry. If your wisdom teeth have just started to come in, or if you’re ready to take them out, following are a few facts about these unusual teeth.
1. Wisdom teeth often become impacted
Even though they don’t erupt through your gums until you’re a teen or young adult, wisdom teeth begin growing deep inside your gums at around the age of seven. Some lucky people never have any problem with their wisdom teeth and are able to keep them. Others experience pain, infection, or other problems.
When you come in for regular visits at Le Dentistry, our team keeps track of your wisdom teeth. We check to make sure:
- Your wisdom teeth have fully come in
- You have enough space in your mouth
- They’re not trapping food
- You can still floss all of your molars
If we find conditions that suggest you’ll have trouble with your wisdom teeth, we may recommend removing them.
2. Impaction leads to extraction
When your wisdom teeth are impacted, you don’t have enough room for them to erupt properly. They may be erupting crookedly. Or, they’ve become trapped under your gums and cause problems, such as damaging the roots of nearby teeth.
When a wisdom tooth only partially erupts, it may provide a haven for bacteria. That can lead to plaque build up and, eventually, a cavity. The best way to resolve the problems and pain of an impacted wisdom tooth is to extract it.
3. Cysts can cause problems
Occasionally, while a wisdom tooth is still under the gum, it can form a cyst. A cyst is a small tissue sac that’s filled with fluid or soft material. Cysts can grow for years without any symptoms. They’re more common in cases where wisdom teeth can’t erupt properly.
Dental cysts are dangerous. They can become infected, weaken the bones of the jaw, or press against the other structures in your mouth. Cysts can even lead to bone loss.
4. Some extractions require surgery
If your wisdom teeth are fully erupted, your dentist can simply pull it out with a simple extraction. However, if they’re still below the gumline, we may recommend surgical extraction.
You may feel a bit sore or swollen for a few days after a simple extraction. You should avoid brushing your teeth for 24 hours. Gargling with warm salt water several times a day for a week helps control pain, swelling, and potential infection.
A surgical extraction is a bit more involved. First, you should be asleep or in a twilight state and so receive an anesthetic.
Depending on the situation, you may need prescription pain relievers following a surgical removal. Icing the jaw should help reduce swelling. You’ll need to drink plenty of water — but no soda, hot beverages, or alcohol for at least 24 hours. You’ll want to eat soft food for about a week.
Would it be wise to remove your wisdom teeth? Find out by contacting us at Le Dentistry & Associates today: book an appointment online or call our friendly staff.