This article, part 1 of 3, provides answers to some of the questions frequently asked about wisdom teeth, their emergence, extraction and post-operative care.
At some stage during our late teens and early adulthood, usually between the ages of 17 and 26, an extra set of teeth can emerge right at the back of our mouths, behind the second molars. Due to their late appearance, says Colorado dentists these extra molars are referred to as ‘wisdom teeth’. Yet in spite of their rather flattering name, the third molars can and frequently do cause a whole host of problems in the mouth, including abscesses, over-crowding and infection. So much so that Colorado dentists frequently opt to extract these problematic pearly whites before they have a chance to cause the patient pain, discomfort and compromised oral health and hygiene. In order to understand what wisdom teeth are, why they require extraction and what this procedure involves, as well as necessary post-operative care, this three-part article series provides the Colorado Springs dentists’ answers to your FAQs.
Question: Why do we need wisdom teeth?
Colorado Dentists’ Answer: This may come as a surprise to you, but we actually don’t need our wisdom teeth, say Colorado dentists. The third molars are an evolutionary remnant of a time when our diets were dramatically different. A few thousand years ago, we were eating seeds, grasses and uncooked meat and this required us to have much larger and stronger jaws. Back then, there was ample space in our more robust jaws to accommodate wisdom teeth, but now, thanks to our diet of soft, cooked and processed foods, our jaws have become smaller and more gracile, say Colorado Springs dentists.
Much like the appendix is a redundant anatomical feature remnant of our diets thousands of years ago, so too are wisdom teeth. It’s evolution in action, say Colorado dentists! Unfortunately, these features can be far from dormant and can cause many health problems. In the case of wisdom teeth, Colorado dentists frequently recommend extraction to avoid the risk of infection and over-crowding in the dental arch. Interestingly enough though, there are many people that just never get their wisdom teeth. Are these people further along in the evolutionary chain than those that do? Well, that’s something to mull over in your next anthropology class!
Question: How will I know when my wisdom teeth are emerging or whether I have any at all?
Colorado Dentists’ Answer: Emerging wisdom teeth can cause all kinds of recognizable symptoms, say Colorado dentists. Dull headaches that radiate from the jaw and a tenderness and swelling of the gums at the back of the mouth are red flags for emerging third molars, especially if you are in your late teens or early adulthood. Regardless of your age, however, you should be going for appointments with Colorado Springs dentists every six months and it will be during these check-ups that they take X-rays to determine what’s going on underneath the gums at the back of your mouth. If you have been experiencing any pain or discomfort, be sure to mention this to your dentist! Some people don’t get wisdom teeth at all, while some that do don’t experience any problems. However, it’s always best for Colorado dentists to keep a strict eye upon these potentially problematic teeth at the time they are expected to emerge. Prevention is better than cure!
Stay tuned for the second article in this three-part series for more Colorado Springs dentists’ answers to your frequently asked questions on wisdom teeth.