Hey teens, are you curious about wisdom teeth? Well, look no further. We’ve laid out everything you want to know about wisdom teeth, from why we have them to post-surgery tips.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third to last molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They are the last permanent teeth to come in, and normally show up in the late teens to early 20s. At this age people are believed to become wiser, hence the nickname “wisdom teeth”.
Not everyone has wisdom teeth, but for those who do have them, the number of can vary from person to person, ranging between one and four.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
It’s not clear why humans have wisdom teeth or why everyone has a different amount. One theory is straight from your science class – evolution. Archeologists believe that this third set of molars date back to our ancient ancestors’ early diet of tough food that required way more chewing power than we need today. Wisdom teeth are commonly referred to as vestigial organs, or body parts that become functionless due to evolution.
Why do we have wisdom teeth removed?
Since wisdom teeth come in last, there usually isn’t enough room in the mouth to accommodate them. This causes the teeth to impact, meaning the third molars develop under the surface of the gums. Even though they aren’t visible, impacted wisdom teeth are painful and can cause serious dental health problems, such as cavities, abscesses, gum disease, and cysts, if not removed.
The earlier the teeth are removed, the better. Those who wait to remove wisdom teeth until later in life can be at serious risk for complications and longer surgeries. The best time for removal is when the roots aren’t fully formed, which in most people is around ages 16-19. An early removal also means less down time after surgery.
What happens after I get my wisdom teeth removed?
It’s important to keep your mouth clean after wisdom teeth removal to minimize risk of infection and dry sockets. Follow these instructions, along with the instructions from your dentist, to keep your oral health in check after surgery:
On surgery day:
- Limit eating, drinking, and talking for the remainder of the day
- Don’t use straws
- Avoid brushing your teeth for the first day
Follow this proper cleaning technique:
- Brush teeth carefully using a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid brushing the surgical area for three days
- Rinse with salt water or gentle mouthwash 12 hours after the surgery
Avoid rigorous exercise and sports for a few days.
If you think you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, contact our office and we can refer you to an oral surgeon. It is important to know that the extraction is performed under anesthesia and should only be done by a trusted, experience surgeon.
Want more info? Check out our FAQ on wisdom teeth removal or any of our oral health blogs.