Do you want you to know why you have Wisdom Teeth?
If you ever experienced discomfort or pain at the back of your jaw between ages 17 to 25, chances are your wisdom teeth was growing out (also known as erupting). For those that have not experienced this, well you probably stumbled upon one or two funny videos of people after a wisdom tooth extraction.
But have you ever wondered why we have wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or formally known as the third molars, grow out typically in your late teens which is how it got its name. So to all of you that believe that having wisdom teeth means you are wiser, think again. That being said, don’t be alarmed if they erupt earlier/later as it varies for each individual.
What are wisdom teeth for?
If you thought that wisdom teeth serves a special purpose, you are in for a surprise! Wisdom teeth are not any different from any other permanent teeth, they simply help you to chew and digest your food more efficiently.
The Science Behind Wisdom Teeth
Generally, most of us have 4 wisdom teeth, but there are also certain people who have less. Why is this so? Scientists theorize that evolution changed human jaw structures due to differences in diets then and now. They believe that our ancestors needed wisdom teeth to chew tough foods like roots and raw meat. But with current advanced methods of cooking that soften foods, there can be said to be less of a need for wisdom teeth. Scientists even predict that in the future, people may not even have wisdom teeth anymore.
Problems of Wisdom Teeth
But in all seriousness, partially erupted or impacted wisdom teeth can have a tendency to increase the risk of oral complications. *Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that are not able to erupt through the gums
Some problems include:
- Tooth decay—Irregular positioning of wisdom teeth makes it much harder to clean and can cause food to be stuck easily. This will allow cavities to form which can cause tooth sensitivities and ache.
- Gum Disease (also known as pericoronitis)—Similarly, the difficulty of cleaning wisdom teeth can also increase one’s risk of bacterial infection that will result in bleeding and inflamed gums.
- Shifting and damage to neighbouring teeth—The erupting wisdom tooth can push against its neighbouring molars which may result in an overcrowding problem. This can increase one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease as well as crooked teeth especially within that region.
- Cysts or tumours under gums—Cysts are a closed bag of tissues which could be filled with air or other soft material/fluid. These cysts have an inflammatory nature which can weaken the bone structure of that affected tooth and even go on to damage the roots of neighbouring teeth.
Symptoms you should take note of include:
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Jaw ache
- Jaw swelling
- Bad breath
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
While the recommended treatment depends on each individual, the most common method of prevention is a wisdom tooth extraction.
*Please seek professional medical advice from your dentist
Wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common dental surgeries and usually takes 45 minutes or less.
First, the area is numbed with anaesthesia. Then, the gum above the tooth is cut opened. Next, the tooth is cut into smaller pieces for easy removal. After the molar is removed, the gum is stitched close.
Additionally, the patient would likely have to return for a second visit to remove stitches. Stitches are usually removed 1-2 weeks after surgery.
It normally takes 3-4 days for full recovery but if your tooth was impacted or erupted at an awkward angle, it could take up to 1 week for recovery. While the patient can resume most daily activities, the dentist will normally advise the patient to prevent the dislodging of stitches and blood clots which help to speed up the recovery.
Some encouraged practices included:
- Consume liquid and soft foods
- Avoid hard, crunchy and sticky foods
- Adopt gentle rinsing instead of spitting
- Avoid hot drinks
- Avoid drinking from a straw
- Avoid strenuous exercise
- Avoid smoking
Other Commonly Asked Questions
Is it Painful?
As mentioned earlier, anaesthesia would be injected before the surgery. You should let your dentist know if the pain is unbearable during the surgery so that your dentist can decide if the dosage needs be upped. Anaesthesia normally wears out a few hours after surgery and you can consume the medication (painkillers) as prescribed by your doctor.
Can Medisave be used?
At participating private dental clinics under the Medisave Scheme, you can use your Medisave savings to pay for the wisdom tooth extraction provided that it is a surgical procedure. For more information regarding claiming limits, please check with your respective clinic.
Here at Vivid Dental Surgeons, we aim to educate our patients on matters regarding oral hygiene and health. Especially amidst this COVID-19 period, we encourage everyone to stay safe and maintain good oral hygiene. Let’s all do our part in keeping the community and ourselves healthy.
If you are interested in learning more on keeping your oral health in check, click here to read other related articles on our blog. Dr Ryan is also open to answering any questions you have regarding oral health matters, drop him a message here.
Dr Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wishes everyone a pleasant and virus-free day ahead!