Wisdom Teeth—What You Need to Know - Holladay Family Dental
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Wisdom Teeth—What You Need to Know

Wisdom Teeth—What You Need to Know

Wisdom teeth. Just saying those words strikes fear in the hearts of teenagers everywhere. Many people associate the words “wisdom teeth” with a swollen mouth and pain. Getting your wisdom teeth out seems to be a rite-of- passage into adulthood for many teenagers. But what are wisdom teeth exactly? Does everyone need them out? Below is some information you need to know about wisdom teeth.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the 3 rd set of molars most people get in their teenage years. Why are they called “wisdom teeth”? A person gains many permanent teeth between the ages of 6-12. Because wisdom teeth break through much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are considered “wiser,” they are called wisdom teeth.

If wisdom teeth properly align with the other teeth, they can be a benefit, giving a person 4 more teeth to use to chew food. However, in many cases, wisdom teeth come in at an angle and are misaligned or are impacted and must come out.

Misaligned wisdom teeth can be positioned horizontally or be angled toward or away from the other molars. Teeth aligned this way can not only be uncomfortable but can actually crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or the nerves. Because they are in the back of the mouth, sometimes they
can be hard to brush and floss.

Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that remain trapped in the gums or jawbone. These trapped teeth can be painful.

How do I know if I have wisdom teeth? Do they always need to be taken out?

It is easy to look at your wisdom teeth with an X-ray. A dentist can see how they are positioned and can recommend whether or not to take them out.

Why are they often taken out during the teenage years?

Wisdom teeth are often taken out in between the ages of 17-25. Teenagers or young adults don’t have roots that are fully formed in their teeth and the bone is less dense than the bone of older adults. Teenagers who get their wisdom teeth out may think they have it bad with some pain and swelling. Those symptoms can be much worse for adults. The recovery time can be longer as well.

What can happen if you don’t have impacted or misaligned wisdom teeth out?

Misaligned and impacted teeth can damage bones and nerves, can cause pain, and can press against other teeth, crowding and hurting alignment. Your other teeth could shift and even overlap. A wisdom tooth that only partially erupts can be a magnet for bacteria and for bacterial infections.

Is it painful removing wisdom teeth?

If a wisdom took is fully erupted (sticking out of the gums), the procedure is pretty simple and isn’t any worse than pulling any other tooth. The dentist would probably give a local anesthesia and perhaps offer “laughing” gas.

However, if a tooth is impacted, the removal process is more involved. The dentist may offer a general anesthesia. The actual tooth removal should be fairly comfortable but when the anesthesia wears off, pain and discomfort are common. Most dentists recommend taking an over-the-counter pain killer such as ibuprofen or Acetaminophen.