Teeth begin to erupt in stages. From an infant, well into the teen years, and even early 20’s, teeth are always changing. The incisors are first to emerge, followed by the canines, premolars, and molars. Finally, the wisdom teeth erupt usually between the ages of 17 and 21. When wisdom teeth have room to come out properly, they can aid in chewing and will generally not cause problems. However, most people will have them removed for preventative measures. Patients especially get them removed if they become impacted, cause lingering discomfort, or damage adjacent teeth.

Purpose of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars located in the back of the mouth. However, not everyone has them. According to the Dental Research Journal, between 5 and 37 percent of people are missing one or more of their third molars.

A dental X-ray can reveal whether you have your wisdom teeth. Several factors can contribute to a lack of third molars, such as genetics, diet, environment, and chewing function. Just because your wisdom teeth are not visible does not mean they don’t exist. They may be impacted or stuck in the gums.

The purpose of wisdom teeth is not completely clear. However, researchers believe the third molars served as replacement teeth for our distant ancestors. As our ancestors did not have proper dental care and ate a different diet, they were more prone to tooth loss.

Problems with Wisdom Teeth

Although most people do not need their wisdom teeth to maintain a healthy, functional smile, there are instances in which removal is recommended. Wisdom teeth do not usually require removal if they are fully erupted, in an upright position, and are not severely damaged or decayed.

However, if these molars are not able to fully erupt due to overcrowding in the mouth or similar problems, an oral surgeon in Melbourne, FL may recommend removal. If they are unable to erupt normally, they may remain hidden under the gums which can cause pain and discomfort.

When wisdom teeth become lodged in the jaw, it is known as impaction. If impacted teeth are not removed, they can cause a cyst, infection, or could potentially damage tooth roots or bone. Impacted teeth do not always cause symptoms but some people may experience swollen or red gums, jaw pain, bad breath, bleeding or tender gums, unpleasant taste in the mouth, or difficulty opening the mouth.

Having Wisdom Teeth Pulled

The decision whether or not to have your wisdom teeth pulled will depend on the symptoms you are experiencing. If the third molars are causing excessive or ongoing pain or discomfort, your dentist may recommend having them removed. You should also consider wisdom teeth removal if the erupting teeth are preventing other teeth from developing properly or causing damage to the jaw or nearby teeth.

Wisdom tooth removal is a common procedure performed by a dental surgeon. Melbourne dental surgeons generally perform extraction in the office under local anesthetic. Sedation may be available for more complex procedures. During the procedure, an incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the tooth. Any bone blocking the tooth root is removed and the tooth is divided into sections for easier removal. The site is then cleaned and stitches are used to close the wound.

After the procedure, it is normal to experience some discomfort. Your dental surgeon may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever or may provide a prescription pain medication. A cold pack held against the jaw can also help relieve pain. Some bleeding is normal for the first day, as well as swelling and bruising of the cheeks. Avoid brushing, rinsing, or spitting for the first 24 hours after surgery and eat only soft foods.

Speak with a Dental Surgeon in Melbourne

Ten million third molars are extracted from more than five million people in the U.S. each year, according to the American Journal of Public Health. This routine procedure has an average recovery period of about two weeks and the risk of complications is low with proper aftercare. For more information about wisdom tooth extraction or to schedule a consultation with an experienced oral surgeon, contact Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implants of Melbourne, FL.