We are creatures of evolution and are grateful for three significant evolutionary changes: opposable thumbs, losing body hair, and larger brains. An area that hasn’t entirely kept up with evolution is wisdom teeth, also known as third molars. Our ancestors had larger mandibles so they could tear and chew meat. We don’t.
Evolution made our jaws smaller, yet wisdom teeth still erupt. Smaller jaws mean wisdom teeth often don’t have the space needed to grow correctly. Now, just in case you are envisioning Steven Tyler’s generous-sized mouth, know that he is the exception, not the rule. But mouth size is only one of the issues wisdom teeth present. But the question of the hour is whether or not wisdom teeth removal is necessary. The short answer is probably. We will get to why in this blog.
Who Needs Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Wisdom teeth removal isn’t needed if they don’t cause problems. If you are lucky enough to have teeth that are healthy, positioned correctly, biting properly once fully erupted, and can be cleaned properly, you don’t need to have them removed. But that’s not many of us.
What Happens When Wisdom Teeth Don’t Come in Properly?
Most people have problems because their mouths are smaller and cannot fit third molars. They come in crooked, are difficult to get a toothbrush back to clean properly, and are prone to cavities. Plus, if they come in crooked, they start pushing your other teeth around, and that’s not very fun, especially if you’ve already undergone expensive orthodontic treatment.
Often wisdom teeth remain hidden within the gums because they can’t emerge normally. Impacted teeth can result in an infection and damage other teeth’ roots.
Sometimes wisdom teeth partially emerge but do not fully erupt. Left untreated, this opening can create a gateway to infection and gum disease.
The frustrating thing about wisdom teeth is that they typically erupt between 17 and 24. By that time, most people have already had braces. If they don’t have enough space to come in properly, they crowd and can move existing teeth, putting that gorgeous smile at risk.
As mentioned earlier, a smaller mouth can make cleaning teeth at the back challenging. To prevent recurrent cavities, dentists often recommend wisdom teeth removal in people with otherwise healthy teeth.
The good news in all of this is that wisdom teeth removal is very common. Evolution has improved the procedure and shortened recovery time, especially when in the hands of an experienced dentist. Speaking of experience, Dr. Andy is an expert at wisdom teeth removal and has been doing the procedure for over 25 years. Many dentists around here weren’t even in college when he began doing wisdom teeth surgery. But we’re dating Dr. Andy, aren’t we?
When it Comes to Wisdom Teeth Removal, Timing is Everything.
Have you ever heard that if you take care of a problem when it is small, it is easier to fix? Well, that is true for wisdom teeth removal. Often, people wait until their teeth become a problem before having them removed. Perhaps they were hoping they wouldn’t need surgery. Whatever the reason, putting off wisdom teeth removal is a bad idea. So when should you get them removed? Dr. Andy says the ideal time for most people is around age 16-19. This is when the roots aren’t fully grown and are easier to remove with less pain and swelling. Dr. Andy says his patients typically only have two days of downtime. Do it on a Friday, and your weekday schedule will be minimally impacted.
If you have questions about wisdom teeth removal, give us a call or schedule an appointment with Dr. Andy. We look forward to hearing from you.