You’re a young adult. And if suffering through body image issues, raging hormones and the thousands of daily life struggles weren’t enough, your wisdom teeth have started to erupt. You’re experiencing pain, discomfort and wonder if it’s just you who has to deal with the lovely hand you’ve just been dealt.
You’re not alone! Did you know that approximately 85% of all Canadians will require wisdom tooth extraction at some point in their lives?
With that in mind, it’s important to understand that each patient is unique. Just as two people are never the same, no two teeth are ever identical either!
Whether you’ll be able to keep your wisdom teeth really depends on the tooth’s particular growth path and if there’s enough space in your jaw for them to develop in a healthy manner.
What’s the Point of Wisdom Teeth Anyway?
Thousands of years ago our ancestors needed wisdom teeth and giant jaws to chew hard plants, roots, and delectable raw meat. Even though we eat much softer foods today, we still carry the gene that allows wisdom teeth to form. Evolution has changed our mouths much like the rest of our body, and to that extent our jaws have shrunk — meaning that fewer and fewer people actually have enough room in their mouths to accommodate growing wisdom teeth. When your jaw can’t make room for these developing molars they often impact, and, if left unattended, can force your other healthy teeth to compact, causing damage and pain.
If you’re experiencing pain near the rear of your jaw it is important to call your dentist as soon as possible. If detected early, this will allow you to avoid the high costs of emergency dental care. Wisdom teeth generally appear between the ages of 17 and 25. If your teeth are stuck under your gums (impacted) or coming in at an angle, your dentist will recommend wisdom tooth extraction.
Some signs that your wisdom teeth aren’t growing in correctly include:
- Jaw pain and stiffness
- Pain at the tooth site
- Swelling in the gum tissue
- Evidence of gum disease at the back of the mouth
It’s important to note that not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed. If our dentists see that your wisdom teeth are coming in straight and there’s enough room in the jaw, you may be able to keep your third molars. Our dentists’ main concerns are protecting your oral health and the appearance of your smile.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth that are coming in at an angle will push other teeth out of the way to make room in the jaw. The best way to prevent over-crowding is to remove wisdom teeth before they erupt. Wisdom teeth surgery can be scheduled once the extra molars are fully formed in the jaw. Impacted wisdom teeth not only undo years of wearing braces or clear aligners (eg. Invisalign), but can also greatly increase your risk for potential infections.
Once your wisdom teeth have been removed you really will never notice any difference. Since you have eight other molars, you’ll be able to chew food as easily as before. Our dental team will let you know how to properly care for your teeth after wisdom teeth surgery so you can recover quickly. Remember — It is important to always follow your dentist’s care instructions. If neglected it can result in torn or popped stitches or infections.
Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Each patient is completely different. For example, a patient may need wisdom tooth extraction if there isn’t enough room in the jaw to accommodate the extra teeth. Another person, on the other hand, may have plenty of space in their jaw.
We’re able to take x-rays and monitor your wisdom teeth as they form in the jaw. That way, your dentist will be able to track the trajectory of your wisdom teeth to determine whether they’ll come through the gum line straight. We also use dental x-rays to determine whether you have enough space in your jaw to accommodate extra teeth.
DO NOT ignore wisdom tooth (or ANY tooth) pain! If you’re having dental pain, discomfort, or swelling, please call our office as soon as possible. One of our dental professionals will be able to walk you through potential procedures and answer any further questions you may have.