All for Life
Wisdom teeth removal
- What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third permanent molars, there are two teeth in each jaw. These teeth are the last to erupt in adults, usually between the ages 17 to 25 and are most posteriorly placed in the mouth. They are called so because it erupts when a person has supposedly gained enough knowledge to be ‘wise’.
- Why are they removed?
Most wisdom teeth are removed because they do not have enough space in the jaws. Wisdom teeth are morphologically similar to other molars. Evolutionally and historically, these teeth have erupted out and served as normal teeth. When humans moved to a more refined and less coarse diet, our teeth stopped wearing out and our jaw sizes became smaller thus reducing the space for third molars. Over the past few decades, dental care has resulted in fewer extractions of good teeth and moved towards conservative treatment, this also resulted in a lack of adequate space for normal eruption of the wisdom teeth.
- How old do you need to be to have them removed?
The wisdom teeth usually erupt from the ages of 17 to 25 and most patients end up needing removal at these ages. However, some patients may get their teeth later and many patients, even if they have impacted wisdom teeth, may have symptoms with their teeth later in life, thus they may end up removing the wisdom teeth at a much later age.
- Do you still need them removed if they don’t hurt?
Pain is just one of the symptoms with wisdom teeth, some teeth may need removal even if they don’t hurt. Most wisdom teeth are ‘impacted’, which means that they are not completely erupted, and they are stuck inside the gums and jawbone. In such a scenario, the teeth can start hurting and sometimes get infected as well. Many teeth act as food traps and also damage adjacent useful molars. Some teeth erupt towards the cheek or tongue and hurt these structures when the patient eats. Some teeth are associated with more serious pathologies such as cysts and tumors. These are some of the reasons why a wisdom tooth needs to be removed.
- When should be removed?
Usually wisdom teeth are removed when symptomatic, symptoms include, pain, swelling in the gums or cheek, infection in the jaws, decay in wisdom teeth or adjacent teeth. Teeth without symptoms are sometimes removed to prevent such problems from happening in the future.
- What happens when your wisdom teeth are removed?
Wisdom teeth usually are not functional teeth, so when they are removed, patients do not really miss them, and it does not reduce one’s ability to chew. In fact, many patients eat better because there are no wisdom teeth to hurt now!
- What is the procedure for removal?
Some wisdom teeth are fairly simple to remove- just like any other extraction. However, many teeth do require a small surgery to take them out. This usually involves a local or general anesthesia depending on the difficulty of the procedure and number of teeth to be removed. The gum is incised, the bone surrounding the tooth is drilled and the tooth may be sectioned before taking it out, the wound is finally sutured. It may sound scary, but these are routinely performed surgical procedures.
- What is the duration for recovery after surgery?
Recovery following a surgery to remove wisdom teeth varies depending on the difficulty of the procedure. Usually, patients have a facial swelling lasting for 4 to 5 days and it may take up to a week for the patient to eat normally as before. Post-operative pain and swelling are managed with analgesics, the doctor may sometimes prescribe antibiotics as well.
- If do not removed, how to take care of the wisdom tooth?
If the wisdom tooth is erupted in a normal position it can serve as a useful molar and it can be taken care as any other tooth: brush twice a day and floss regularly!
Consult our Maxillofacial surgeon, Dr Arvind Narayan for any issues with your wisdom teeth, a Maxillofacial surgeon is a specialist in surgeries of the face and jaws.