Do you know your wisdom teeth fact and treatment options? Also called third molars, wisdom teeth are the rearmost teeth on each side of your top and bottom jaws. While getting your wisdom teeth removed may not be high on your list of things you are looking forward to, it may help you to know that millions of people have the procedure done each year with no complications. In fact, approximately 85 percent of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted during their lifetime. Why are wisdom teeth extracted and do they always need to be taken out? What is treatment like and what risks are there? These are all questions that we will be answering in this post. Niles Family Dentistry is committed to educating you on all your options and working with you to keep you healthy and your smile bright!
Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?
In the 17th century, your third and last molars to erupt on each side of your upper and lower jaws were termed “the teeth of wisdom.” This later evolved to “wisdom teeth” a couple centuries later. Still, linguists believe they earn their name from the idea that they arrive between the ages of 17-25 when a person matures into adulthood and is “wiser.”
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Because of the late arrival of your wisdom teeth, one of the primary reasons they are extracted is because of overcrowding in your mouth–there just isn’t room for them with all your other permanent teeth in place. That being said, some people end up with enough room for their wisdom teeth and do not have to have them extracted.
When your wisdom teeth begin to erupt, there typically isn’t enough room and, thus, only a partial part of the tooth will be visible. The rest of the tooth will be covered by a flap of gum. When you eat, food particles and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. The trapped food triggers swelling and a low-grade infection called Pericoronitis. Pericoronitis, and the associated pain, is the most common reason patients choose to have their wisdom teeth extracted.
Some of the problems associated with wisdom teeth may happen to you and they may not happen to you. Most dentists feel that early prevention is a better course of action so that you don’t run into problems in the future when you are older. Younger mouths heal more quickly than older mouths making the recovery process less uncomfortable. When extracted in your youth, the roots of wisdom teeth are not fully developed yet, and the bone around the teeth is less dense so extraction is also less traumatic to your mouth and surrounding tissues.
An “impacted” tooth is one that doesn’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons reports about 90 percent of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, meaning there’s not enough space for it to break through the gums. Most dentists recommend that impacted teeth be removed to eliminate associated pain and prevent damage to neighboring teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth may cause no apparent or immediate problems, but can be difficult to clean making them easy targets for tooth decay and gum disease.
Why Are Some Wisdom Teeth Not Extracted?
Some dentists choose not to extract wisdom teeth because of their proximity to nerves in your mouth. Lower wisdom teeth are sometimes dangerously close to or embedded in the neurovascular bundle that runs along your lower jaw and affects how your tongue feels and tastes, and how your jaw and facial muscles move. Your dentist will evaluate your x-rays to determine if you are at risk for nerve damage with wisdom teeth extraction. Damage to these nerves can occur during extraction, but only a small percentage have complications. Of that small percentage at least 50% of people who experience nerve damage recover spontaneously.
What Can I Expect from Treatment?
During your wisdom teeth consultation, Dr. Niles will thoroughly explain to you the wisdom teeth extraction procedure and can answer any question you may have. Patient experiences vary due to the location of the wisdom teeth and the strength of the structures that they lie in. Most often, surgical removal of wisdom teeth will involve some mild to moderate post-operative discomfort. Dr. Niles will prescribe pain medication to help with any discomfort you may face following the procedure and will ensure that you are sufficiently numb during the procedure so you don’t feel any discomfort. The type of medication and strength following your procedure will depend on the difficulty of the extraction. Sometimes antibiotics may be prescribed to ensure infection-free healing.
Call for a Free Wisdom Teeth Consultation
If you, or a loved one, needs to have their wisdom teeth extracted, call Niles Family Dentistry today to make an appointment. Dr. Niles can talk to you about your particular needs and what to expect from your wisdom teeth extraction appointment and treatment. Call today for a consultation at (720) 744-0001. Niles Family Dentistry serves the families of the Niwot, Longmont & Boulder communities. We look forward to meeting you and your family.