A wise man once said: have your wisdom teeth removed early, before things get out of hand and cause serious trouble for you. OK, a wise man didn’t say any of that. I just made that up and I’m no wise man. However, I’m speaking out of experience since I recently had my wisdom tooth removed and I don’t mean to scare you, but lets just say it didn’t go nice at all. And I’m sure if you mention wisdom teeth to any of your friends, family, or coworkers, they will all have some horrific… erm… not very pleasant story to share. My advice is to consult your dentist about early wisdom tooth removal because while the tooth is still healthy, it is much easier to pull it out in one piece (get it, one piece, cause of the picture from the anime, no? OK, never mind).
Anyway, my first wisdom tooth removal, my dentist explained some things and I did a little research myself. So, here is the deal with wisdom teeth. Just like the tonsils and appendix, wisdom teeth are a relic from our ancestor’s hunter-gatherer days, when they had much bigger jaws and ate food that required more chewing. But, today, in the jaws of the modern human, there is rarely room for wisdom teeth, also called third molars. Very often they grow crooked, even horizontally in some cases, or they barely break through the gum. Also, because they are way back in our mouth, it is very hard to reach them with a toothbrush or floss and clean them properly which often results in infections. Studies have shown that two thirds of people will eventually experience problems with their wisdom teeth such as infections, decay, cysts, and even damage adjacent molars. This means that even though your third molars aren’t bothering you, they still might be causing problems without you realizing it.
Of course, every person is unique and it is best to consult your dentist and have your wisdom teeth scanned with an OPG X-ray. This way your dentist will know exactly what their current condition is and what they are up to.
Wisdom teeth fall into three common categories:
- Fully erupted – which are generally okay to keep and can function normally, however, cleaning them is still difficult.
- Un-erupted – when they haven’t made their way into the mouth. These can be normally left alone, but it is important to monitor them frequently just in case.
- Impacted – these are the most troublesome wisdom teeth. Due to insufficient space or poor angulation, these teeth became stuck and pose a high risk of infection and often have to be removed.
Symptoms that may mean that there’s something wrong with your wisdom teeth include: pain in the back of the jaw, swelling, limited mouth opening, persistent bad breath, or even fevers. Wisdom teeth removal can be done with a local anesthetic while you are awake or with the help of a mild sedative. Whatever the case may be, your dentist will advise you on how to best deal with them.