What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom are a set of molars that grow at the very back of your mouth. According to doctors, wisdom teeth were originally formed as replacement teeth when humans ate rougher, uncooked foods in the past. Nowadays, we don’t need wisdom teeth because we are able to preserve our teeth with cooked food, restorative dentistry, and oral hygiene.

Unlike other teeth, people only have one set of wisdom teeth (four in total) in their entire lifetime. Wisdom teeth can be a healthy addition to your mouth if they are properly aligned and have enough space to grow, but oftentimes, this isn’t the case and they must be removed.

When do wisdom teeth grow in?

Most teeth first come in around 8 months of age. This primary set is known as baby teeth and it is replaced during childhood with permanent teeth. Wisdom teeth, however, only come in once and they do so at a much later age. Every case is different, so there is no average age for wisdom teeth to develop. They can grow in as early as the early teens and as late as the mid-twenties. Not even everyone has wisdom teeth!

Since wisdom teeth are located at the very back of the mouth, it can be difficult to see them. Sometimes, wisdom teeth don’t erupt at all because they are stunted beneath the gums. In this case, the dentist can see how your wisdom teeth are developing with an x-ray. If they aren’t obstructing other teeth, then it’s possible they can simply be left in the mouth.

Do I need to get my wisdom teeth pulled?

It’s common for people to get their wisdom teeth removed, but it’s not necessary for everyone. Some people’s wisdom teeth are small and aligned enough to be left in the mouth. Only your dentist can tell you whether you need to get your wisdom teeth pulled or not. That’s why it’s important to get biannual checkups!

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms because of your wisdom teeth, chances are you’ll probably need to schedule an appointment to get them taken out:

  • Pain at the back of the teeth behind the molars
  • Redness, tenderness, bleeding or swelling at the back of the gums
  • Bad breath

Wisdom teeth can push other teeth out of alignment and press down on nerves and bones, making your mouth sore or swollen. If they’re left in the mouth, this could damage the gums or tissue and leave them vulnerable to infection and cysts. Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that get stuck beneath the gums because they are blocked by other teeth or jaw bones. If they continue growing in the wrong direction, they can crack teeth.

Can my dentist remove my wisdom teeth?

Yes, most general dentists have the experience and tools to remove wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are usually removed 1 or 2 at a time on the same side of the mouth, so the patient is still able to chew out of the other side. However, you can get them all taken out at once if your dentist deems it appropriate. It’s a safe and common procedure that should take no more than 2 – 3 hours.

There are also oral surgeons that can remove particularly difficult wisdom teeth if you prefer. Your dentist will gauge whether your teeth needs treatment from a specialist or not depending on your unique situation. Reasons why you may need a dental specialist include:

  • Patient’s tooth has developed a cyst
  • Patient has deeply impacted tooth
  • Patient requires sedation

Does it hurt to get wisdom teeth removed?

No, getting wisdom teeth removed should not hurt at all! The dentist will use a numbing gel and anesthetic to ensure that patients don’t feel pain during the procedure. If you have an impacted tooth that requires surgery (cutting into the gum to pull out the tooth), the dentist can sedate you, so there’s no pain.

After the procedure, however, many patients may experience soreness, throbbing, swelling, and pain once the anesthetic wears off. The doctor will prescribe you a mild painkiller to ease any discomfort. During the recovery period, patients should abstain from eating any hard or crunchy foods because doing so can aggravate pain.

If you have any more questions about wisdom teeth, our dentist is an expert! Dr. Erwin is a holistic dentist that provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental services to patients throughout Glendale. He’s successfully performed hundreds of wisdom tooth extractions and he’s happy to help you. Give us a call to schedule a consultation today!