Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, typically begin to come in around the age of 18 – 25 years old and most people have 4 with 1 in each corner of the mouth. However, these last-minute molars can be very uncomfortable to live with, so why do we have them?
The history of wisdom teeth
For starters, it might have something to do with evolution. It is believed that wisdom teeth may have been used for eating nuts, plant matter and grinding harder foods such as raw meat and bones – chewing them into smaller pieces and enabling our caveman ancestors to swallow easier.
However, as our brains began to grow bigger over time to make us more intelligent, it meant our mouths became smaller so less space was available for wisdom teeth, causing them to become impacted.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth doesn’t have enough room to grow correctly. It usually develops at an odd angle in this case, and gets stuck below the surface of your gums instead. This can lead to a number of different problems, such as infection or irritation around your existing teeth.
When should they be removed?
There are a number of different factors that will determine whether someone is able to have their wisdom teeth extracted, including age, individual health, and how well they have healed from previous surgeries.
But, if you are experiencing severe symptoms such as pressure in the back of the mouth, swollen gums called ‘pericoronitis’, or jaw pain it is important to get checked by your local dentist or doctor immediately who can help advise what treatment would be best for you.
Wisdom tooth removal also helps prevent multiple dental issues including:
- Gum disease due to the difficulty of maintaining oral hygiene and cleanliness.
- Cysts that form due to a build-up of fluid, resulting in nerve damage and the possibility of a noncancerous tumor developing.
- Crowded teeth whereby the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, increasing the risk of an infection and likelihood of orthodontic treatment to straighten other teeth.
Wisdom teeth treatment
Sometimes, home remedies like numbing dental gel, pain relief medication and rinsing with warm salt water can help with minor aches and tenderness. But, if the pain does not go away or keeps coming back, then it’s always best to speak with your dentist who can advise what would be most beneficial.
If there is nothing wrong with your wisdom teeth and they’re healthy, they will simply remain in your mouth for the rest of your life without causing you any problems.
Here at Ten Dental, our oral surgeons are specially trained in the treatment of more complex dental needs, from root canal surgery, and jaw cysts to wisdom tooth extraction with dental practices in Clapham, Balham and Wandsworth.
Be wise and get in touch with us today!