Wisdom Teeth

Although technically known as Third Molars, Wisdom Teeth likely received their more common nickname due to their late growth and the general consensus that wisdom comes with age. Approximately 85% of adults have their Wisdom Teeth removed at some point in their lifetime. These Third Molars are slow to grow in, with most starting to show in the late teen years, growing in between ages 17 and 25. For most of us, the Wisdom Teeth are less functional than the First and Second Molars, located just in front of them.

It is believed through Anthropological research that the Wisdom Teeth traditionally served a purpose, helping to chew a coarser plant-based and nut-based diet in pre-historic times, but over time the human jaw grew smaller and diets changed. This is believed to be the reason Wisdom Teeth sometimes create a crowded feel to the mouth, and even if not causing pain may require removal to protect the other teeth or to aid orthodontic treatment efforts.

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Lower mandibular third molar impaction pericoronitis diagram" by Lesion - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lower_mandibular_third_molar_impaction_pericoronitis_diagram.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Lower_mandibular_third_molar_impaction_pericoronitis_diagram.jpg
Possible problems that can develop around Wisdom Teeth include inflammation, dental caries, impacted position, over-erruption of the corresponding upper Third Molar…

Sometimes the Wisdom Teeth are a problem, however. They can set the stage for frequent irritation around the gums at the back of the mouth, or they may grow in at an awkward angle or sideways (referred to as “impacted”) and start pushing on the roots or crowns of neighboring teeth. As we age, the roots of Wisdom Teeth continue growing, making them more difficult to extract later in life, which is why many dentists and surgeons prefer extracting at the first signs of potential trouble.

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Panoramic X-Ray showing all four Third Molars before extraction. Extraction was done for orthodontic and orthognathic treatment.

Wisdom Teeth are prone to cavities (dental caries) because they are often very difficult to brush and if they grew in at an awkward angle, they can create a trap for food and bacteria in the space before the Second Molars. Filling the Wisdom Teeth, especially in smaller mouths, can put a lot of strain on the jaw and face muscles that have to keep the mouth open wide for the filling procedure. Rather than fill the Wisdom Teeth, many patients opt for extraction instead.

At Praxis & Klinik, we regularly extract Wisdom Teeth for a wide variety of reasons and for patients of different ages. After reviewing X-rays to determine the best approach, many Wisdom Teeth can be removed with only local anesthesia (e.g. Novacain, Ultracain). Depending on the patient, some prefer to have all four Wisdom Teeth extracted at once, while others prefer to extract upper Wisdom Teeth or lower Wisdom Teeth first, then the other two at a separate appointment. We also offer deep sedation and general anesthesia, with full anesthesiology team support.

For more information on Wisdom Teeth, extractions, and other treatment options, contact Praxis & Klinik today!


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

AAOMS: Wisdom Teeth (PDF)

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