Our Family Dentist In Huntersville Explains Wisdom Teeth
At our cosmetic and family dentist office in Huntersville, NC we see both pediatric and adult dental patients. We can confidently say that about half of them have had their wisdom teeth extracted or are experiencing other wisdom teeth issues. Wisdom teeth are the mystery teeth that many believe we don’t need. What is their purpose and why do we have them if most of us end up having them surgically removed by clinicians like Dr. Marra at his Huntersville Dental Practice?
Our wisdom teeth have an interesting history so we’re taking a look into these unique sets of molars to learn a bit more.
They Don’t Make You Wiser
The name we give to these molars is not because they increase our IQ, it’s derived from the time in our lives when they generally erupt. For most individuals, wisdom teeth come in between the ages of 17 and 21, which is known as the “age of wisdom.”
Not everyone gets their wisdom teeth so early in life, for some wisdom teeth don’t make an appearance until a patient is in their 60s or older!
Wisdom Teeth Don’t Serve a Purpose
Our earlier ancestors needed wisdom teeth to chew and eat the diet available to them at the time. Consisting mainly of raw meat, roots, and leaves, these early humans required this extra set of teeth. Today, our foods are much softer and we have various tools to help us prepare foods that don’t require such tough chewing.
Most People Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed
As humans developed smaller jaws and skulls than our ancestors from thousands of years ago, it meant less space for these third set of molars.
Since wisdom teeth no longer serve a purpose, they tend to be problematic, which is why 85% of dental patients have them removed. Dr. Marra, Cosmetic & Family Dentist in Huntersville, NC, or oral surgeon will be able to determine if they should be extracted with an x-ray.
Wisdom teeth can cause a number of oral health issues, including:
Tooth decay and infection.
Because wisdom teeth are located so far back in our mouths, they are difficult to clean properly. With the inability to brush and floss the area correctly, it can lead to cavities, gum disease, and contribute to other oral hygiene issues.
Impacted wisdom teeth.
Since our facial structures today do not accommodate wisdom teeth, they often become trapped in your jawbone or gums, which can feel incredibly painful, OTC medication may not be able to resolve the pain. In addition to the pain, an impacted wisdom tooth can lead to infection, damage nearby teeth and even irritate the gum tissue since it means the tooth went through a partial eruption.
This is a fairly common occurrence, as oral surgeons perform some 3.5 million wisdom tooth extractions annually.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth come in at the wrong angle and can push against your other teeth, shifting their alignment and potentially undoing all that correction you did with braces as a kid.
Not Everyone Will Get Their Wisdom Teeth
A fairly large percentage of the population — 35 percent — will never see their wisdom teeth. Scientists are divided about whether this can be attributed more to evolution or to culture.
Aboriginal Tasmanians rarely have wisdom teeth, and it’s not all that uncommon to find people from Southeast Asia to be without them as well. People of European descent tend to have at least one erupted wisdom tooth in their lives.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction is Not Always the Best Option
Even if wisdom teeth are not causing an immediate problem, many dentists recommend extraction for potential problems later in life. Some issues that could arise include:
- The sack of tissue surrounding the tooth can develop a cyst, which can lead to bone loss in the jaw.
- If the tooth is below the gum, it can damage nearby teeth by consuming the roots.
- Bacteria and plaque build-up can lead to infection
That said, some dentists say that if they’re not causing problems now, then there is no need to surgically extract them. One reason has to do with the possible side effects of surgery, such as dry socket (infection of the tooth socket) and nerve damage. So if there is no current issue then, you may be off the hook for surgery.
Family Dentist In Huntersville NC For Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Whether you are a teenager whose wisdom teeth have just erupted or an adult who still has their teeth we’d be happy to chat with you and take a look at them to discuss long term care and next steps, if any. Give our friendly team at Huntersville Family & Cosmetic Dentistry a call today at 704.892.7866 to schedule a visit with Dr. Marra.