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What are wisdsom teeth and do I need to pull them out?

The wisdom teeth or the third molars are one of the most interesting parts of the human dental system. But they also raise some concerns and questions about their need and possible risks.

Wisdom teeth, are remnants of the human evolutionary process when our ancestors had larger jaws and ate very rough foods. These additional teeth helped in chewing these foods to bits as they required more force to be broken down. But with human diets shifting to softer and cooked foods, and with the reduction in size of the human jaw, there was no longer the need for wisdom teeth. However, wisdom teeth have not been completely removed from the evolutionary process and many people still get them, although with various problems.

The wisdom teeth begin to grow in the latter part of the teenage years or early adulthood, a stage which is referred to as the ‘age of wisdom’. They are the final set of molars that come through, typically lying behind the other molars in the back of the mouth. Nevertheless, not every person has wisdom teeth, and if a person has them, the process of their eruption may differ significantly in time and complexity.


Problems that are Related to Wisdom Teeth

While some people have no problems with their wisdom teeth, others suffer from various issues that require removal of these teeth. Some of the most common problems associated with wisdom teeth include:

  • Impaction: Sometimes the jaw is not large enough to accommodate the wisdom teeth, and they get stuck in the gum line or only partially come through. The wisdom teeth that are partly or fully erupted can cause pain, swelling and increase the chances of getting an infection.
  • Misalignment: The wisdom teeth may develop in an abnormal position, which may lead to crowding of the other teeth. This can result in crowded teeth, shifting of teeth, and bites that are not quite right.
  • Infection and Gum Disease: Wisdom teeth are located at the back of the mouth, which makes it challenging to clean them effectively and reduces the chances of developing plaque, cavities, and gum disease. Infections around wisdom teeth can lead to pain, swelling, and discomfort.
  • Cysts and Tumors: Sometimes, wisdom teeth can cause the formation of cysts or tumors which may lead to the loss of other teeth, bone, or nerves.



Do You Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The decision to remove wisdom teeth depends on various factors, including:

  • Dental Examination: Your dentist will take an X-ray and perform a clinical examination to evaluate the state of your wisdom teeth and if they are impacted or prone to impaction.
  • Symptoms: You may need to have your wisdom teeth removed if you are experiencing pain, swelling, infection, or having difficulty chewing food.
  • Age: It is easier to extract wisdom teeth in young people since the roots have not fully grown, which reduces the chances of complications during the surgery.
  • Tooth Alignment: Wisdom teeth may need to be removed if they are crowded and impact the alignment of other teeth in the mouth.
  • Oral Health Risks: People who have had dental diseases like tooth decay, gum disease, or infections are more likely to have problems with their wisdom teeth and may need to have them removed.


Process of having the wisdom teeth removed.

If extraction is recommended, the process typically involves:

  • Anesthesia: Local anaesthesia is normally given to make the area around the wisdom teeth numb. Sometimes, patients may require sedation or general anesthesia especially when the extraction is complicated or the patient is very anxious.
  • Extraction: The dentist or oral surgeon will surgically extract the wisdom teeth from the sockets in the jawbone. For instance, in cases of impacted wisdom teeth, a small cut may be made on the gum tissue in order to access the teeth.
  • Recovery: Some of the side effects that may be seen after the procedure include swelling, discomfort, and bleeding which can be relieved by taking pain relievers and observing proper oral hygiene. It is crucial to adhere to the post-operative instructions given by your dentist to ensure proper healing and minimise adverse occurrences.


Always check the status of your wisdom teeth during your next dental checkup

The presence of wisdom teeth can often be puzzling and worrying for many people. Although not everyone requires their wisdom teeth to be extracted, it is crucial to track their growth and consult a dentist in case of any issues or discomfort. It is possible that your dentist can examine the state of your wisdom teeth and advise you on the best course of action to take. The need for extraction may depend on factors such as the position of the teeth, symptoms, age, and the general health of the teeth and gums. Knowing the problems that may arise from wisdom teeth and visiting a dentist will help you save your smile in the future. There are many times when wisdom teeth extraction has no pain at all and is a quicker procedure than a dental filling however, everyone’s jaw and teeth are different and each is dependant case by case.