You’ve heard the term “wisdom teeth” plenty of times, but have you ever wondered where the term came from? Wisdom teeth have been on people’s radar dating all the way back to the 17th century, known then as the “teeth of wisdom,” but what’s with the name?
You’ve heard the name, but do you know their story? Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that people get in their late teens or early twenties. It is therefore assumed that the recipient of wisdom teeth is wiser compared to when they received the rest of their teeth. This is how these chompers earned the nickname “teeth of wisdom,” which was later dubbed the more-modern “wisdom teeth” in the 19th century.
As intelligent and all-knowing as they may sound, wisdom teeth aren’t always that smart. Often you will find that wisdom teeth tend to come in crooked or misaligned. This creates crowding of the teeth and jawbone, and can even result in damage to surrounding nerves. In some situations wisdom teeth can become impacted, meaning the tooth is able to only partially break through the gums. Imagine trying to climb through the window and getting stuck halfway. Pretty uncomfortable, right? Impacted wisdom teeth are very susceptible to infection and oftentimes result in pain. As if that weren't enough, impacted teeth are also prone to tooth decay and gum disease.
So if wisdom teeth sound like nothing but a one-way ticket to pain town, why do we have them? Wisdom teeth are supposed to help us chew food and help the rest of our teeth be more efficient. But much like buying a lottery ticket, your odds aren’t typically good for success. Typically you see problems with your wisdom teeth when they become impacted or do not grow correctly. It is often necessary to remove the wisdom teeth in cases such as these. As you could imagine, some wisdom teeth are easier to remove than others. The placement and the angle of the wisdom tooth are vital aspects to the ease of their removal. There are a few ways a family dentist can remove a troublesome wisdom tooth. If the tooth is fully exposed, the dentist can remove it in a similar manner as they would any other tooth. If the tooth is impacted, it may need to be surgically removed piece by piece.
During removal, the gums and jaw will be numbed with a local anesthetic. The anesthetic is often the same kind that is used for a cavity filling. Sometimes, anesthetic such as “laughing gas” is given to calm the nerves of the patient and provide additional relief. Bleeding and facial swelling are common side effects from the removal process. Not only is the process fun, it’s really pretty (do you sense our sarcasm?). The level of post-surgery pain often depends on the difficulty of the surgery. Dentists will often prescribe antibiotics or pain medications for the patient after the surgery.
Nearly 85% of adults need their wisdom teeth to be removed in order to fix dental issues at some point in their life. It’s extremely important for patients to choose a dental practitioner that will provide them with the best care, with many years of experience under their belt. Here at Stanley Dentistry, we have over 20 years of experience providing family dentistry in the Cary, NC area. Wisdom tooth extraction is one of our many areas of focus as comprehensive, family dentists. If you feel as though you or your child needs to have a wisdom teeth evaluation, we offer complimentary consultations.