HAVING YOUR WISDOM TEETH REMOVED…
…Is a right of teenage passage! But when and why does your dentist recommend this surgery?
BACK IN CAVEMAN ERA…
… the human skull had a smaller brain case and larger jaws. The wisdom teeth or 3rd molars that erupt around 18 years of age all erupted into the mouth. As humans’ jaws have evolved, more and more wisdom teeth have become impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that will not erupt into the mouth but is growing slanted or sideways due to a lack of room in the oral cavity.
Wisdom teeth are not a problem until they are a problem. Then they are a BIG problem.
The wisdom tooth may be growing against the tooth in front of it, ruining that tooth’s root. The wisdom tooth may only come partially in causing infected tissue around its crown (pericoronitis). They may be difficult to clean and get decayed. Numerous “what ifs…” can happen.
Once the tooth is fully formed when you are age 25 or so, the roots may be close to the inferior alveolar nerve (the main lower jaw nerve) or even wrap around this nerve. Removal at this point is a difficult surgery.
Dentists try to predict the problems before they occur and have the teeth removed to prevent these headaches (no pun intended). After all, teenagers heal easily even if it makes for a bummer of a Spring Break.