Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars that come in
They can appear anywhere between the late teens and mid-twenties. They are not called wisdom teeth because they make you smarter, but because they usually come in at a time that a person has reached a level of maturity that should indicate an increased level of wisdom! Some recent research indicates that the brain could possibly reach full maturity around the time that the wisdom teeth are making their appearance.
So why are wisdom teeth mentioned on a dentist’s website?
They are often misaligned. Depending on how severely they are misaligned, they can damage nearby teeth, nerves, or even the jawbone. The wisdom teeth can also be impacted. This refers to a condition where they are either still under the gums or they only partially break the surface of the gums. Wisdom teeth that are only partially visible have two potential problems. The opening in the gums can make it much easier for bacteria to get in and cause infections. They can also be harder to reach during oral hygiene, which makes them more susceptible to decay and infection.
A consultation with your dentist will help you come up with options for dealing with your wisdom teeth should they be misaligned. It is not uncommon for dentists to extract wisdom teeth even before they become a problem. The process and recovery is much easier on younger patients than older patients. Your dentist may also choose to periodically x-ray your wisdom teeth and simply keep an eye on their development. In some cases, he may send you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
In the event that an extraction is necessary, there are two basic scenarios:
- If the wisdom tooth is fully exposed, it can be extracted by the process that any other tooth is extracted.
- If the wisdom tooth is under the gum (completely or partially), an incision and minor surgery will be necessary. This is often done by an oral surgeon. He may remove the tooth in small sections rather than all at once in order to minimize bone removal.
The extraction of a wisdom tooth will follow these steps:
- The area surrounding the targeted tooth will be given a local anesthetic.
- Depending on your preference and the complexity of removing the tooth, your dentist may also give you some level of sedative in order to help you relax. There are different levels and methods of sedation depending on your level of anxiety. If you are only given the lowest level (commonly called “laughing gas”), you will be able to drive yourself home. The higher forms of sedation will require you to have someone who can drive you home.
You will be given thorough post-operation instructions by your extraction team upon the completion of the procedure.