Does Everyone Get Wisdom Teeth? And Other Questions
By Buttercup 7 Day Dental 20th Dec 2018
Wisdom teeth are strange. Horror stories are always flying around about impacted teeth and painful extractions.
Why do we get wisdom teeth? Does everyone get wisdom teeth? Do they actually make you wiser (disclaimer, we don’t think so)? Do you always need them removed? How are they removed?
Here at Buttercup 7 Day Dental, we thought it was time to clear the air surrounding wisdom teeth. To make sure you are fully aware and ready to tackle any problems your wisdom teeth might throw at you — we’ve prepared this introductory FAQ guide. If there’s something you don’t understand or if your burning question isn’t on the list please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars, located behind the standard molars in the jaw. Humans are able to grow 4 wisdom teeth in total, one in each corner of the mouth.
They appear on average between the ages of 17 and 21, a time when you are older and ‘wiser’, hence the name. Unfortunately, as far as we’re aware, they don’t actually make you any wiser.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
The modern human body has many parts that are no longer used, like our appendix, for example. Wisdom teeth are similar.
Thousands of years ago, humans ate very differently to what we do today – their diet was mainly composed of raw foods, like roots, leaves, and meat. These foodstuffs required a great deal of effort to break down to swallow, involving a lot of crushing and tearing. Having a third set of molars, our wisdom teeth, allowed early humans to process their food far easier.
As our diet has changed, we no longer require our wisdom teeth, but a blip in evolution has meant that we still grow them.
Does Everyone Get Wisdom Teeth?
Strangely, not everyone will have their these teeth come through.
For most people, if the wisdom teeth haven’t grown through by their mid-20s, then they never will.
Some people may grow only one wisdom tooth whilst others grow all four. It’s all down to genetics and chance whether or not you’ll grow a full set.
Do You Need To Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Take the aforementioned example of the disused appendix – every human is born with an appendix, and it is never removed unless it presents a health risk, like appendicitis. The same goes for wisdom teeth.
A good dentist will not remove your wisdom teeth unless they pose a problem. Removing these teeth can be risky, occasionally leading to nerve damage. There is no sense in taking a risk like this if the wisdom tooth itself is healthy and the surrounding area is unharmed.
The only times that your wisdom tooth will need to be removed is when it grows in at an awkward angle or when it can only grow partially through the gums, also known as an impacted tooth.
When these things happen, it can negatively impact the alignment of the teeth, puts pressure on the jaw, and makes the mouth susceptible to plaque growth and decay by preventing easy access for brushing and flossing.
What Does The Wisdom Tooth Removal Process Look Like?
When it has been recommended by your dentist to have your wisdom tooth or teeth removed, it is quite a straightforward, quick and pretty painless process to undergo.
Your dentist will X-ray your mouth to get a better idea of the positioning of the tooth so they can plan how best to remove it.
You’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the pain. To remove the tooth, the dentist will rock the tooth back and forth, gently pulling, trying to widen the tooth socket so the tooth will come loose. You may feel some pressure as they do so. If necessary, they may cut slightly into your gum to help release the tooth.
The full process can take from a few minutes to around twenty minutes. At Buttercup we don’t start till the anaesthetic has kicked properly in. In other words, you shouldn’t feel any pain at all except the weird sensation as we rock it out.
Recovery After Wisdom Tooth Removal
Like any kind of surgery, you’ll need to recuperate for a little while after having a wisdom tooth removed.
You should take some time to relax, not participating in any vigorous activity which could slow the healing process down.
The area surrounding where the tooth was extracted may swell and throb with pain for a few days following the procedure, but usually, this is no more than what normal painkillers can handle. Your dentist will advise you on what pain killing medication to take and an ice pack on the side of your face will do wonders.
In terms of foods, it’s best to start off by drinking clear liquids and then move onto soft foods like applesauce, well-cooked pasta, ice cream (yeah, we said it) and mashed potato. Avoid any hard or chewy, spicy or acidic foods or anything that has small particles that may get lodged in the area where the tooth was extracted.
If you are experiencing problems with your wisdom teeth, it’s best to get it checked out by your dentist as soon as possible. Buttercup 7 Day Dental have years of experiencing dealing with impacted or awkwardly positioned wisdom teeth – to see what we can do for you, just get in contact with us.
If the thought of having your wisdom tooth removed sends shivers down your spine, Buttercup also specialise in dealing with nervous patients making sure that you are as comfortable and de-stressed as possible!
For more information about wisdom teeth problems and how to identify and prevent them, check out these warning signs.