Medically referred to as the “third molars”, these molars located furthest in the back of the mouth usually break through between the ages of 16 and 20. In some cases they only sprout up in our thirties, when we are a little bit older and wiser. This is how these late pupils got their names. In some people the wisdom teeth are not completely arranged, or not at all. If and when they make themselves known just as often comes down to genetic disposition.
Why do we get wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are presumably remnants from prehistory. The additional molars provided valuable assistance to our ancestors by helping them break down hard, tough food. Their jaws were much longer for that reason, and so they provided sufficient room for additional chewing instruments. Our jaws usually don’t suffice for that anymore, which is why the belated molars often become wedged or inflamed in the jaw bone.
When do wisdom teeth need to be extracted?
In some cases the wisdom teeth don’t have enough room in the jaw, and they can only partially reach chewing height. If they only partially break through, a mucosal cap can form on top of the crown. Such a recess is very hard to reach with a toothbrush and provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. This is what dentists refer to as a retained tooth. It’s not uncommon for progressive inflammations in the gum to even result in the breakdown of the jaw bone. This requires immediate action!
Non-breaching (impacted) wisdom teeth conceal another risk. If they remain translocated in the jaw, they can damage the roots of the neighbouring teeth and thus jeopardise the retention of these teeth. Wisdom teeth can also be responsible for the formation of cysts in the jaw. With decayed and destroyed wisdom teeth as well, tooth extraction is often the only way to prevent inflammation of the jaw bone.
1. At what age should the wisdom teeth be removed?
Our teeth age with us and become more brittle over time. It is thus recommended that you get retained (partially breached) or impacted (embedded in the jaw bone) wisdom teeth extracted when you are young. The ideal age for tooth extraction depends on the individual development of the masticatory apparatus.
2. What does the extraction of wisdom teeth entail?
The surgical removal of wisdom teeth is a routine procedure for oral surgeons, and it is regularly performed under local anaesthesia. Translocated or severely deformed teeth may require further splitting of the tooth (hemisectioning). After the removal (extraction) of the tooth the wounds are sealed to keep out bacteria. Your oral surgeon will remove the threads after about ten days.
3. What should you take note of after the operation?
You should never drive a vehicle immediately after the operation. You are also advised against eating right after the surgery, otherwise you run the risk of bite injuries. Soft food is permitted once the numbness has completely subsided. You should abstain from drinking coffee for one day after the operation. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco are taboo as well.