What Are Wisdom Teeth?
The majority of people grow four wisdom teeth in the back of their mouths in their late teens or early twenties. They’re the last teeth to come through and reside in all four corners of the mouth. They are also known as “third molars”.
Interestingly enough, not everyone has wisdom teeth. While most people grow all four, some people don’t grow any at all.
What’s The Point of Wisdom Teeth?
So if not everyone grows them, are wisdom teeth actually useful?
Most healthcare providers consider wisdom teeth vestigial. This means that these teeth may have served a purpose once upon a time, but simply don’t anymore. Our ancestors used to eat lots of hardy foods like hard nuts and tough meats. Without the food preparation and utensils we have today, wisdom teeth used to be responsible for breaking these foods down to allow for adequate digestion.
While these teeth may have served a purpose long ago, they’re no longer needed to consume food.
Why Do We Remove Wisdom Teeth?
The good news is that wisdom teeth don’t always have to be removed. If your child’s wisdom teeth are healthy, grown in completely and positioned correctly in their mouth, they don’t need to have them removed. The issue with wisdom teeth is since they grow much later in life, there simply isn’t enough room for them to come through. This can cause countless problems such as:
- Pain: If your child’s wisdom teeth are trying to emerge in a mouth that doesn’t have any extra space, this can result in varying levels of pain and a general uncomfortable feeling in the mouth.
- Tooth Damage: As wisdom teeth grow, they may crowd or damage other teeth.
- Infection: Some people struggle with wisdom teeth that are hidden within the gums. If they’re not able to emerge due to not having enough space, this can result in an infection in your jaw.
- Poor oral hygiene: If your child’s wisdom teeth grow in at a funky angle, they may not be able to clean them properly. This attracts bacteria which can cause infection or gum disease.
If your child is struggling with any of the above, it may be time to look into wisdom teeth removal.
What Does the Wisdom Teeth Removal Process Look Like?
While the wisdom teeth removal process may seem intimidating, it’s anything but! Wisdom tooth extraction is an outpatient procedure that lets your child go home the same day.
Many people opt for some level of sedation during the procedure, which may include being “put to sleep”. While you will not be aware or have any memory of the wisdom tooth removal, you are actually conscious and breathing on your own with this type of sedation. During the procedure, your dentist will administer local anesthesia at the site of each extraction. While they may feel a bit of pressure, this shouldn’t be painful. Your dentist will then proceed to remove the affected teeth.
After the surgery, your child may experience some bleeding and pain. This is normal. It’s recommended to use an ice pack to alleviate any swelling or bruising and to take it easy for at least a week. Your dentist will be able to provide you with further information on aftercare at the time of treatment.
Get in Touch
If you’re concerned about your child’s wisdom teeth and would like to discuss the need for removal, get in touch today to find out how we can help.