Wisdom Teeth 101

As a teenager, I often hear stories about how painful it is when the wisdom teeth grow in, creeping inside your jaws until one day, they decide to come out and inhabit inside your mouth. That said, I definitely did not look forward to getting my own set of wisdom teeth. I wondered if we really needed those teeth at all if it was so painful to get them. Fast forward about a decade, here I am answering the same questions I wondered about to my patients. Read on to find out the answers to the common questions I get regarding these dastardly bothersome wisdom teeth.

What is  wisdom teeth?

In our previous post, we talked about the types of teeth in the oral cavity. Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They are also the final teeth to erupt. The mean age of eruption is 18-25 years old.

Why do some people get them and some don’t? 

Research suggests that wisdom teeth are a leftover internal relic of a different time in the history of human beings. Many years ago, humans lived on a diet of food like roots, raw meats, and firm leaves—things that made a lot of tearing and crushing a necessity. As such, early humans had a larger jaw and room for more teeth. As dietary intake began to change, so did the human body, effectively eliminating the need for a third set of molars. Now, a few people are born without wisdom teeth. Others have enough room in their mouths for the teeth. While the rest are less fortunate experience the ordeal of pain from growing wisdom teeth.

Why does it hurt when it grows inside the mouth?

Although our jaws are now smaller, our teeth remained the unchanging in size. When there isn’t enough space for our teeth to properly erupt, it is considered impacted. Unfortunately, in the case of wisdom teeth, this happens more often than not. Teeth may become twisted, tilted, or displaced as they try to emerge. They could grow in partially inside the mouth, or none at all but still cause pain. Scenarios would include but not limited to :

  • Swelling of the gum in the back of your mouth
  • Difficulty opening your jaw
  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Pain when you open your mouth
  • Pain when chewing or biting

Pain can occur for several days and then disappear. It can come back weeks or months later.

Tune in next time to find out the treatment options available!




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