Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth get their name because they are the third and last molars, appearing later in life than any other teeth, usually between the ages of 17 and 21. Ideally, they appear with little pain and rather than providing wisdom, they assist in chewing. Oftentimes the wisdom teeth cause more problems are removed. Some people never get them!

What if I Don’t Get Wisdom Teeth?

If your wisdom teeth never come in, you’ll still be able to chew and eat as well as anyone else. In fact, 35 percent of people never develop their wisdom teeth. It is believed to be a mutation that formed thousands of years ago to suppress their development. Scientists have been able to study human remains that suggest the mutation developed in China, but is now widespread, and it is quite common for a dentist to have several patients with no wisdom teeth.

It is far more common for an individual to have problems from existing wisdom teeth than problems from having none at all.

Common Wisdom Teeth Problems

Ideally, the wisdom teeth come in completely with enough room and straight. This isn’t always the case. If you experience pain while your wisdom teeth area coming in, you should make an appointment with a dentist right away.

Wisdom teeth require attention due to many factors:

  • The tooth only comes partway through, causing gums to grow over it. This traps food and acids which leads to tooth decay and gum infection.
  • The tooth comes in crooked, facing the wrong direction, or is overcrowded and can become stuck.
  • A cyst forms, causing damage to the bone or roots.
  • The tooth is too far back in the mouth and overcrowded that it can’t be properly cleaned, leading to sensitivity and decay.

Treating a Troublesome Wisdom Tooth

If your wisdom tooth cause problems and pain, your dentist will recommend its removal. This is a surgical procedure, but can be done at your dentist’s office if your dentist is trained in oral surgery. It’s important to listen to the recommendations of your dentist during the entire process so that you don’t have unexpected issues in the future. Many dentists will recommend removing all the wisdom teeth if they foresee a future problem. They make this determination by looking at your X-rays, inspecting your spacing, and more. Following your dentist’s recommendations can mean temporary discomfort to prevent future pain and cost.

While You Wait for Your Extraction

While you wait for your appointment there are a few things you can do. Treat the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Take any and all medications your dentist prescribes.  This may include antibiotics.  Keep the teeth clean by brushing or using a water pick to clean the area under the gum flap. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water 2-3 times daily. Mix one cup of warm water water with one teaspoon of salt water for best results.

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