What are Wisdom Teeth and Why are They Extracted?

Wisdom teeth are also called the third molars if you want to be technical, but when hearing the term, most people think of extractions, or getting them removed. There are good reasons that this procedure is done so often. Your third molars typically grow through your gums in your late teens to your early twenties, and this is when problems can occur.

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

We can probably blame our distant ancestors’ eating habits for these often-problematic teeth. Many generations ago, we likely needed these extra teeth to chew difficult and tough foods. Back then, our jaws were a bit larger, and able to accommodate these extra teeth. Today, we have smaller jaw sizes, making wisdom teeth unneeded.

Why Do They Cause Problems?

Wisdom teeth are otherwise like normal teeth, and sometimes, they come in normally and don’t cause any issues. But other times, they cause problems when there isn’t enough room for them to “erupt,” or grow in. Often, this leads to wisdom teeth coming in sideways, tilted, or only partially, if they come up at all. This leads to pain when chewing and adds pressure to your remaining teeth.

Another problem caused by wisdom teeth includes tooth decay if the wisdom tooth doesn’t come up all the way or if food gets stuck behind or around the tooth. These areas can be difficult to brush adequately, and this can lead to decay in the wisdom tooth and possibly adjacent teeth. Infection can also set into the surrounding gum or tissues as a result. Wisdom teeth can also damage nearby teeth and your jawbone if they grow incorrectly, and sometimes, a cyst can form around these teeth.

How They’re Extracted

Extracting wisdom teeth is a common procedure, and younger adults tolerate it better than older adults, so it’s best to have it done as early as possible if you’re able. Usually, a local anesthetic is used, similar to when you receive a filling or have a similar procedure done. Sedatives are also available if more relaxation is needed or desired. Your dentist will then make an incision in your gum if needed, allowing him or her to reach the tooth. Sometimes, the tooth will need to be cut into multiple pieces to remove as gently as possible and will remove any bone from around the tooth that is impeding the removal process. Connective tissue keeping the tooth rooted may also need to be broken.

Once the tooth is removed, your dentist will likely need to apply stitches to your gums. The procedure should be painless, though you may feel some pressure with the extraction process itself. You may be sent home with an antibiotic to prevent infection and pain medication, depending on the procedure. You may also experience some swelling during your recovery and will need to use care to avoid certain foods, such as peanuts and other hard-to-chew snacks, for several days.

Comfort Is Our Specialty.

Here at Seven Lakes Dental, we’re committed to making sure you’re as comfortable as possible during your entire appointment, from the waiting room to after your procedure. If you have any questions and you live in the Marysville, WA or Smokey Point areas, contact us today.