Wisdom teeth leave most people with a lot of questions — like why do they exist? After all, what’s the point of wisdom teeth is the just need to be taken out, anyway? Your Grande Prairie dentist has answers in this wisdom teeth FAQ.
Q: WHY DO WE HAVE WISDOM TEETH?
A: That’s the million dollar question! No, it’s not much of a mystery — and the answer is evolution. These third molars are a holdover from the days when humans didn’t have knives and forks for eating, back when we ate tougher (often raw) meats, roots, and other gifts straight from the earth. In those days, teeth didn’t last long, and an extra set of molars always came in handy. But as our diets have developed and dental hygiene has improved, not only do we not need the third molars, but there is often not enough room in the gum to support their eruption.
Q: HOW MANY WISDOM TEETH DO WE HAVE?
A: Most people have four wisdom teeth: two in the top and two in the bottom. Some people don’t have any wisdom teeth at all. If you do have wisdom teeth, they will likely begin to erupt between ages 18 and 24.
Q: WHY DO WISDOM TEETH NEED TO BE REMOVED?
A: When there isn’t enough room for the wisdom teeth to fully erupt in the gum, they may become impacted, or just partially emerge. It’s estimated that 70 percent of wisdom teeth become impacted. Impaction causes infection, discomfort, and crowding of the surrounding teeth.
Q: SHOULD YOUR WISDOM TEETH BE REMOVED?
A: Sure, you know that most wisdom teeth end up getting extracted — but do yours really need to come out? Many dentists recommend taking out the third molars even before they erupt if we see they exist beneath an adolescent’s gumline. That’s because healing is easiest in younger patients, so preemptive removal can potentially save a teen a significant amount of discomfort and time in the long run. The decision on whether or not to have wisdom teeth extracted before they erupt is completely up to you, but as soon as they begin to cause pain, indicate infection, or affect the surrounding teeth, we will strongly urge their removal.
Q: WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR WISDOM TEETH LIKE?
A: Wisdom tooth extraction is performed using local anesthesia to ensure you don’t feel any discomfort at the treatment site. We also provide sedation dentistry for calming jittery nerves. The extraction may be simple or complex. A simple extraction is possible when the tooth can be removed in one piece. Wisdom teeth extractions, however, are usually complex — meaning they are taken out in multiple pieces.
Your dentist will administer anesthesia and sedation to ensure you are completely comfortable. Then, the tooth will be exposed and any surrounding bone matter will be taken off. The tooth is then removed and the gum is closed. Recovery from wisdom tooth extraction requires rest, relaxation, and a soft foods diet until discomfort allows you to resume your regular diet.
Q: SHOULD I HAVE MY CHILD’S WISDOM TEETH CHECKED OUT?
A: It’s not a bad idea to know whether or not your teen’s wisdom teeth are likely to present issues if they erupt. If you’d like to know whether or not your child may need wisdom teeth extraction, or if your own wisdom teeth are presenting a problem, please get in touch with your Grande Prairie dentist to schedule an appointment today.