When it comes to teeth, wisdom teeth are little rascals. They can be a real pain in the mouth, and sideways wisdom teeth can be a danger to your overall health.
Why do we even have wisdom teeth anyway? Do we need them?
If you find yourself saying, “If wisdom comes with age, I don’t want it,” you’ve come to the right place. You see, sometimes wisdom teeth are necessary depending on the structure of your jaw, but most of the time they’re rather useless.
Why Do Humans Get Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth typically grow in when you are 17 to 25 years old, while all of your other teeth grow in by the time you are 12 to 14 years old.
Wisdom teeth don’t serve much of a purpose now, but millions of years ago, our ancestors needed them in order to chew foods that were harder and chewier, such as plants and uncooked meat. Such foods can be hard on your teeth, so that third tooth helped the others do their job without excessive wear. The jaw itself was larger as well to accommodate these needs.
Why are Some Wisdom Teeth Sideways?
These days, we cook our foods, and we have utensils to help us get them into our mouths. Today, that extra tooth is just extra. For some people, wisdom teeth never even poke through the gums at all, even though they are there underneath the gumline.
Over time, humans’ faces and jaws became smaller, so there isn’t much room for wisdom teeth to grow in properly. For that reason, sometimes wisdom teeth grow in sideways, or they might only poke through partially, which gives bacteria a place to enter the gums. In both cases, they can lead to abscesses or cause general pain and discomfort.
It also may be more difficult to brush them thoroughly, so even if they do grow in straight, wisdom teeth tend to get cavities.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
Considering that they typically are not very useful and can cause problems, simply removing wisdom teeth is often the wise choice. It is especially important to remove sideways wisdom teeth. These can be very painful and possibly irritate the inside of your cheek, your tongue, or your gums, and they may affect the health of the third molars beside them.
If you’ve never had a wisdom tooth removed, you have probably still heard the stories. Don’t let them scare you.
With a skilled dentist, use of the ideal anesthetic for you, and proper care of the tooth area after extraction, removing a wisdom tooth doesn’t have to be as much of a challenge as you have been led to believe.
Unless a wisdom tooth grew in an especially tricky manner, the extraction itself is a relatively quick procedure and only requires one appointment.
The important part is the TLC you will have to give the extraction area over the next several days. The dentist will likely give you the following recommendations.
- Use gauze in the area to stop the slight oozing of blood. The gauze will also help to form a clot or scab in the area that will help the area heal. Once the bleeding has stopped, you should be able to stop using the gauze. This typically only lasts for a couple of hours.
- Use an anti-inflammatory pain relief medication to prevent infection and relieve pain.
- If an antibiotic was prescribed, use it as directed.
- Place an ice pack on the outside of your cheek to relieve and prevent swelling.
- Avoid spitting, drinking through a straw, rinsing your mouth, and smoking, all of which could slow the healing process.
- Avoid lying down, as this might make the bleeding continue.
- Avoid eating on that side of your mouth.
- Avoid eating anything hard like nuts or chips at all for the first couple of days, as these can get stuck in the area and dislodge the clot.
You should continue to avoid drinking through a straw, smoking, vigorously rinsing your mouth, or eating anything hard for the next couple of days. You may be advised to gently rinse your mouth with a saltwater rinse beginning the day after the extraction.
Whether it’s the removal of sideways wisdom teeth or straight wisdom teeth that have become impacted, the dental extraction procedure and recovery process is essentially the same. If the teeth are fractured or the roots are of a particular concern, your procedure may differ slightly.
If you are in need of a wisdom tooth extraction, call our Grosse Pointe dental office to schedule a consultation.