This article provides some information on wisdom teeth, what they are, why we still have them and why it is typically necessary for them to come out in our early adulthood.
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt from our jawbones and this usually happens between the ages of 18 and 26. We wouldn’t mind them so much were it not for the simple fact that they tend to be troublesome; very troublesome. Why do we need wisdom teeth? Why are some people born with only two or none at all? And why do they typically need to be extracted? Let’s find out what dentists in Silver Spring MD have to tell us about our wisdom teeth!
The Truth about Wisdom Teeth
We used to need wisdom teeth and now we don’t. A few thousand years ago, having a third set of molars used to be extremely handy when our diet consisted of chewier, unprocessed foods and grains. Back then, our jaws were much larger and more robust (think caveman), which helped us to cope with a diet heavy in fiber. With the evolution of our species and our gradual civilization, our diets shifted to softer, more processed and cooked foods. Over many thousands of years, our bodies adapted to our changing diet and one of these adaptations was a smaller and more gracile jawbone.
With less space along the jaw for wisdom teeth, the emergence of our third molars in our early twenties has become increasingly problematic. In many cases, the lack of space causes the wisdom teeth to push up underneath the second molars or even to emerge at odd, unnatural angles. This can cause damage to the neighboring dentition, severe over-crowding and a risk of infection and painful abscesses forming. Furthermore, the physical act of these teeth pushing through the gums, which leaves them torn and exceptionally painful, can lead to infection.
So as you can see... wisdom teeth are generally problematic, but for a very interesting reason. Just like our appendix, wisdom teeth are evidence of how we have evolved as a species. In fact, as proof of their redundancy, more and more people are being born without them!
Why Wisdom Teeth Need to Come Out
For all the reasons mentioned above, it can be in the best interests of the individual to simply have their wisdom teeth extracted by a qualified Silver Spring dentist. Rather than endure the pain and discomfort and the risk of over-crowding and infection, a dental healthcare professional may opt to extract the offending teeth, especially if they’re impacted (emerging under the second molars). A simple X-ray will reveal the orientation of your wisdom teeth and whether you’re jaw is spacious enough to accommodate them.
The surgery required to remove wisdom teeth is typically quick and straightforward. In many cases it can be done in the offices of dentists in Silver Spring MD with only a local anesthetic and - if you desire - a sedative. If your case is more complex, the teeth may need to be broken down and removed piece-by-piece in which case you will be fully anaesthetized so that you don’t experience any pain. Post-operative recovery can involve facial swelling, bruising and some discomfort, but most patients are back up on their feet within a few days.