Here is a riddle for you: the average adult has 32 teeth with 16 on the top and bottom. An adult also has three molars on each upper and lower side of the jaw for a total of 12 molars; however, not everyone has all of these molars. The third farthest molars at the back of each set of molars are the “wisdom teeth.” These are usually the last teeth to grow. So what happens when you try to crowd too many teeth into an otherwise healthy mouth?
Wisdom teeth usually need to be removed when they start to hurt, develop infections, grow sideways or get trapped between the gum and bone. Sometimes wisdom teeth can be “impacted,” which means they do not grow or “erupt” because they are being blocked by another tooth and are stuck in the jaw. Since there is not enough room for them in the mouth, and it can sometimes be painful, a dental professional may recommend you get your wisdom teeth removed.
They are called “wisdom teeth” because they emerge in the teen years and into adulthood when a person is thought to have more “wisdom”– most wisdom teeth surgeries are also usually performed around this time.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
Not everyone needs to get wisdom teeth removed; it is not necessarily a rite of passage. Sometimes wisdom teeth are removed to prevent future problems and unless they cause problems, they may not need to be removed at all. Serious complications can arise for some people if the wisdom teeth are not removed, such as cysts, damage to other teeth, infections and gum disease.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
During wisdom teeth surgery, a dental professional will administer anesthesia or sedation depending on the complexity of the surgery and your comfort level. Once you have been given the anesthesia and you don’t feel a thing, the dentist will then open up the gums to expose the teeth and bones. He or she will then take out any bone that is blocking the tooth, separate any tissue and remove the teeth. Sometimes the tooth—or number of teeth being taken out at once—will need to be divided or broken up into smaller pieces to remove.
With any surgery there are potential risks and complications, so talk to your dentist about the considerations of wisdom teeth surgery. Regular check ups and routine follow-ups with your dentist will let them see the progress of your wisdom teeth as they develop and will reduce the need for emergency surgery or complications from impacted or neglected wisdom teeth.