This four-part article series provides an in-depth review of wisdom teeth, what they are and what the procedure and recovery process involves in their removal.
Sometime during your late teenage and early adult years, you may notice some discomfort, pressure, pain and/or sensitivity developing toward the back of your mouth. You may notice that the gums feel stretched over a mound, or that they have split open to make way for what feels like an emerging set of new teeth.
Well, they are new teeth! They’re your wisdom teeth and according to Silver Spring MD dentists, they’re the third and final set of molars anyone gets in their life. Wisdom teeth can be somewhat of a pain during their emergence, but if aligned correctly, they can become an asset to your digestive system. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth more often emerge from the jaw imperfectly and this misalignment can cause considerable problems for the rest of your dentition.
For this four-part article series, we sat down with a dentist in Silver Spring to find out about wisdom teeth, what they are, why they’re necessary and everything you may have wanted and needed to know about the extraction procedure and recovery. Since almost everyone gets wisdom teeth and may experience similar problems, it’s important to understand the answers to these questions.
“Your wisdom teeth are your third set of molars, which typically emerge from the jawbone between age 18 and 25,” explains the Silver Spring MD dentist. “The interesting thing about wisdom teeth is that they are an evolutionary remnant from a time when our jaws were larger and more robust as a result of our tougher and more fibrous diets. We don’t really need our wisdom teeth anymore, because our diets consist of softer and more processed, cooked foods, so it’s only a matter of time before they become phased out by our continued evolution. However, in the meanwhile, they’re there and they can be problematic for people.”
This begs the question: why are wisdom teeth so frequently a problem? And why are some people born without them?
“Over the millennia, our jaws have evolved to match our diets. Since we no longer live on grasses, seeds, bulbs and other tough, fibrous foods, our jaws have become smaller and more gracile,” explains a dentist in Silver Spring. “Our smaller jaws can’t accommodate a third set of molars or at least not without consequence for the rest of your teeth, which is why most dentists recommend their extraction before they’ve even had a chance to fully emerge from the jaw.”
“The fact that more and more people are being born without wisdom teeth or with only two upper or lower wisdoms supports the hypothesis that they are an evolutionary remnant and are being phased out.”
If you aren’t experiencing any of the common symptoms associated with the emergence of wisdom teeth, then it’s really impossible to know whether or not you have them without an X-ray. You should visit your Silver Spring MD dentist at least once per year for a general check-up, but if you or your child is in his or her late teens and/or early twenties and hasn’t been to the dentist in a while, you should book an appointment. Your dentist will take X-rays of your jaw and dentition to determine, amongst many other things, whether you have wisdom teeth and whether or not they will emerge without complication.
Stay Tuned for Part 2
To read more about wisdom teeth, the various problems they tend to cause and the procedure involved in their extraction, stay tuned for the second installment of this four-part article series.