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The Unfortunate Impact Of Wisdom Teeth

smile_makeover_3 __Sunrise Dental | Chapel Hill | Durham | Raleigh | Cary, NC
As adults, we have four kinds of permanent teeth in our mouths. Our largest teeth are our molars. These are the bigger, flatter teeth in the backs of our mouths. Most people develop three sets of molars, and it’s the last set that we will be discussing today. These are our wisdom teeth. They get their name because they erupt later than the rest of our permanent tooth, presumably at an age when we are wiser. For many patients, wisdom teeth turn out to be nothing but trouble, however. We know how to deal with those troublesome teeth at Sunrise Dental, and we perform wisdom teeth extractions at each of our four dentist offices in Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham. Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth? Today wisdom teeth are considered to be vestigial body parts by many biologists. Like our tonsils and appendixes, our wisdom teeth once had a purpose, but that purpose is less apparent today. When modern humans are compared with our ancestors, our jaws are smaller. As a result, many of us do not have enough room in our mouths for our wisdom teeth to emerge cleanly. Scientists believe the changes in our modern diets have largely made wisdom teeth unnecessary. Our much older relatives needed an extra set of molars to better chew and grind the raw foods that they consumed. Our ancestors didn’t live on processed foods. Having a larger grinding surface in their mouths made it easier to digest the foods that they ate. Risks Of Impacted Teeth This change in our anatomy can cause a variety of problems, however. If our wisdom teeth don’t have room to emerge, they will try to make room for themselves. This can cause our teeth to become impacted. One of the reasons that dentists take X-rays is to monitor changes in your teeth. This is particularly important around the time your wisdom teeth erupt (or attempt to erupt). Most people will get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth can become either partially or fully impacted. A partially impacted tooth will emerge part of the way from your gums. A fully impacted tooth will remain below the gumline. Wisdom teeth may grow at an angle toward the tooth closest to it, pressing that tooth into the rest of your teeth. Wisdom teeth may grow toward the back of your mouth, putting pressure on the jawbone and nerves in your mouth. A wisdom can grow sideways, pressing into the roots of neighboring teeth. Or your wisdom tooth can remain vertical but stay trapped in your jaw. Symptoms Of Impacted Wisdom Teeth In addition to damaging your teeth, jaw, and nerves, wisdom teeth can cause cysts to form. These sacs can fill with fluid and sometimes become non-cancerous tumors. Having impacted teeth can increase your risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay. Because your wisdom teeth may not be visible, you may need to look for other symptoms that you have an impacted teeth. Those symptoms can include:
  • Pain in your jaw
  • Swelling in or around your jaw
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed
  • Problems opening your mouth
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
If you visit Sunrise Dental for routine care, we will monitor changes in your teeth. If we see that your wisdom teeth are causing a problem or are likely to create issues down the road, we will recommend wisdom teeth removal. Removing Wisdom Teeth You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s like pulling teeth.” Generally, people are referring to something unpleasant or something they would rather not do. In this case, we do everything we can to keep you comfortable during the process. We will either numb your mouth with local anesthetic or provide you with one of our dental sedation options to ensure you don’t feel anything during the extraction procedure. Because wisdom teeth are basically extra teeth that you don’t need, there is no reason to replace them if they are removed. However, we will provide you with instructions on how to care for your mouth to minimize your risk of infection during your recovery. Make The Wise Choice The smartest thing you can do is to continue to visit the Sunrise Dental office closest to you for routine cleanings and examinations. During each visit, we will watch for changes in your teeth. We can minimize the complications of impacted wisdom by removing them before they cause major issues. To schedule your next appointment, use our online form or call the office closest to you.