Ever had your dentist telling you that you need to get rid of your wisdom teeth and wondered why? Here’s a post that’ll tell you give you some of the answers you need.
What are wisdom teeth?
These are the teeth that appear much later than the other ones. All your teeth erupt when you are a child except for those mysterious ones that erupt at an age when you are most probably ‘wiser’. Also called the third molars, they are situated far back in your mouth, two on the top and two at the bottom. Sometimes you may have fewer or more, or may be even none. These teeth which usually appear between the ages of 16 and 25, if well aligned, can be a prized asset to your mouth.
Why you need to lose your wisdom teeth
More often than not they are misaligned, or impacted, i.e. they fail to erupt partially/completely through the gum line. It is believed that human ancestors had larger jaws with more teeth to help chew down coarse food like leaves, roots, meat, etc. But human diets have changed since then. We now use softer foods. This has made the wisdom teeth vestigial, i.e. they have become functionless with evolution.
If your wisdom teeth are partially erupted, it becomes difficult to clean them. Bacteria grow on the food that accumulates under the soft tissue flap around it, leading to a pericoronitis (infection). Pericoronitis causes swelling and redness of the gum, diffuse pain, difficulty in mouth opening and a bad breath or taste in the mouth. If untreated, it can lead to much serious infection.
If misaligned or crooked, your wisdom teeth can rub against your tongue or cheek causing ulcer and pain. If there is not enough room on the jaw or in the mouth, they can cause displacement or crowding of the remaining teeth. Teeth adjacent to the wisdom teeth are also more prone to developing gum problems.
If there is not enough space to grow normally they will become stuck beneath your gum, bone or another tooth. They can impinge on a nerve or damage the root of adjacent tooth. Rarely, they can lead to a cyst (fluid filled sac) which may damage the adjacent teeth, cause bone destruction or jaw expansion. Very rarely, tumours can develop in the cysts. Such conditions will require surgery. In a small portion of patients, cysts and tumours occur around impacted wisdom teeth, requiring surgical extraction.
If the tooth opposing a wisdom tooth is absent, it becomes non-functional. With time it might supra erupt and impinge on the opposing jaw. In such cases too, your dentist may advise you to get it extracted.
Want another reason to get them extracted? You can opt to have stem cells from your extracted wisdom teeth isolated and saved!
Unless contraindicated, all impacted teeth should be removed. Prevention is better than cure. Removal of impacted teeth should not be deferred until they cause problems later in life. With advancing age, extraction of impacted teeth becomes more difficult, is likely to be more complicated and may require more healing time.
So go ahead and get consult your dentist about getting your wisdom teeth removed. It’s only going to be a wise decision!First Published: Feb 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM