Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth aren’t really so smart. If they were, they wouldn’t be the number two cause of dental emergencies. Most wisdom teeth end up being extracted. The reason for this is they rarely come in properly. There are two main reasons for that. One: because we no longer eat the type of diet our ancestors ate, over time our jaws have become smaller, but we still have the same number of teeth trying to fit into a smaller space.  Genetics is the other reason. If a person is born with a small jaw and large teeth, because of the lack of jaw space, wisdom teeth often only partially erupt, are impacted into the jawbone, or come in tilted. If they don’t erupt normally they won’t mesh with their opposing partner, and if they don’t meet properly they’ll be ineffective for chewing.  If they can’t chew for you, they’re about as valuable as a car with no tires.  Wisdom teeth are also the most difficult teeth to keep clean. They are an accident waiting to happen and are prime candidates for an emergency.

The immediate cause of this emergency is usually decay, gum infection, or periocoronitis (an infection generally caused by food and plaque getting stuck under the flap of skin that covers a portion of the chewing surface of a partially erupted wisdom tooth).

Your dentist can tell you if you’re one of the very few who have normal, healthy, and functional wisdom teeth. If that’s case, you can certainly keep them … but remember, they’ll still need a lot of care. If your wisdom teeth haven’t erupted properly, the best way to deal with them is to have them pulled before the emergency takes place. If you have them removed when there is no infection, and you’re in good health, the extraction procedure and recovery will most likely be fine. On the other hand, once they become badly decayed, or the gums become infected, the extraction process not only becomes more difficult for you, but the odds of an uneventful recovery decrease dramatically.