Wise up on wisdom teeth

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Published
Wednesday, 3 April, 2019

What are wisdom teeth and why do they cause such problems in young adults? Is it always necessary to have wisdom teeth removed? Let’s answer these and other frequently asked questions about the wisest of all teeth.

Why are they called wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the teeth in the very back of your mouth (the upper and lower third molars). They are the last teeth to erupt and earned their wise name because by the time they appear in the mouth, you are supposed to have gained some wisdom.

When do they normally appear?

Most children have 28 of their 32 permanent teeth by age 13. The remaining four (the wisdom teeth) tend to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25.

Why do wisdom teeth cause such problems?

By the time wisdom teeth make their appearance, often there isn’t enough room left in the jaw to fit them in comfortably. When this happens, wisdom teeth can become impacted, which can lead to the pain and complications associated with wisdom teeth.

What is an impacted wisdom tooth?

An impacted tooth can either grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped entirely beneath the gum and jaw bone. This can be painful and lead to gum infection (when food or bacteria becomes trapped under the gum) or tooth decay (because proper brushing and flossing is difficult).

Should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

If your wisdom teeth have erupted with no symptoms and your dentist agrees there is plenty of room for brushing and flossing – happy days! You can enjoy all the extra chewing power of wisdom teeth.

If you are experiencing painful symptoms or your dentist has advised that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, you have some options depending on the difficulty of the case.

Most wisdom teeth can be extracted under local anesthesia by your dentist. If the surgical procedure will be more involved, for example if your wisdom teeth are impacted, your dentist may recommend having the teeth removed in hospital by an oral surgeon.

How long does it take to recover from wisdom teeth removal?  

Recovery takes approximately five to seven days – with some facial swelling to be expected. The gums around the extraction site should be fully healed within three to four weeks.

If you are experiencing painful symptoms from wisdom teeth, speak to your www.ineedadentist.com

Dr David Hills graduated from the Dental School at Griffith University in 2009. Prior to this David had finished 4 years of study in Biomedical Science completing a scholarship with the Heart Foundation Research Centre. David has spent the last 7 years working as a dentist on the Gold Coast where he has gained a reputation for providing exceptional quality dental care.