The removal of wisdom teeth has become so common that it seems like a right of passage. In fact, they are called “wisdom” teeth because they begin erupting as we enter adulthood. Wisdom teeth, also referred to as third molars, are one of those odd twists in human evolution where an obsolete body part continues…
Are There Benefits to Keeping Wisdom Teeth?
Dentists often recommend having wisdom teeth removed since they do not serve any specific purpose. These teeth are a relic of the days when humans ate more hard roots, seeds, and leaves in their diet. They do not provide any specific benefit at this point since the other molars are more than enough to grind down the types of food modern humans consume.
Understanding wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth are the furthest teeth in the back of the mouth and that makes them more difficult to clean. This increases their risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Dentists typically extract wisdom teeth when they become damaged by decay. Treatments like fillings can be used on wisdom teeth, but dentists rarely recommend them since a wisdom tooth that is vulnerable to decay is likely to develop other issues in the future.
Extracting a wisdom tooth the first time an issue arises often spares the patient needing to get additional treatments on the same tooth in the future. Since wisdom teeth are not necessary, the person does not lose anything.
Keeping wisdom teeth also increases a person's risk of developing issues like periodontal disease and infections. The eruption of wisdom teeth can also lead to orthodontic issues if they end up pushing on other teeth or overcrowd the person's jaw. This can end up ruining the appearance of the person's dentition.
Wisdom teeth erupt around the ages of 17 to 21 and there is not always enough room for them to come in. This can lead to a wisdom tooth getting trapped in the jaw or underneath the gumline. At times, a wisdom tooth only erupts partially and creates a gum flap that serves as a breeding ground for bacteria.
What goes on during wisdom teeth removal
The extraction of wisdom teeth requires minor oral surgery. Depending on how much of the tooth erupts, the dentist will choose between performing a simple or surgical extraction. Simple extractions are performed when there is enough tooth material exposed that the dentist can simply pull the tooth out with forceps. Surgical extractions are performed when an incision needs to be made so the dentist has better access to the tooth.
Extractions often start with the dentist injecting the patient with a local anesthetic. This numbs the area and prevents the patient from feeling pain as the dentist works. An incision might be made to reach the tooth or the tooth might be cut into smaller pieces to make extraction easier.
The recovery period after having a tooth extracted can last up to two weeks. Patients should expect to experience some pain and discomfort as they recover. This is typically managed with prescription painkillers. It is best to stick to soft and liquid foods for the first few days after an extraction.
Get the treatment you need
Not all wisdom teeth cause problems, but removing them often provides more benefits than keeping them does. Contact our Vista clinic to learn more about wisdom teeth and when they should be removed.
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