What to do with wisdom teeth?
In the realm of dentistry there are (from what I’ve observed) two main veins of thought on just what to do with our wisdom teeth. They are generally: a. “Take them out. Take them out right now.” and b. “Take them out because now they are causing you problems.”
Some dentists say “keep ’em,” some dentist say “lose ’em.” But before we do anything with them…just what are they? Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars (the large back teeth in your mouth) that usually come in during the late teens or early twenties in an individual. In fact, their late arrival is usually the reason attributed to it’s name (although, I wasn’t that wise in my late teens OR early twenties, so…there went that notion for me).
Do we need wisdom teeth anymore?
Evolutionarily speaking, are wisdom teeth even really needed in the human mouth anymore? Well, I will say this, about 100 million years ago the answer would be that, yes, humanoids did need that many teeth, as their diet consisted of plants, bark, and raw meat. Here’s a little article on that. Having 32 teeth at that point was an advantage. As we evolved, however, our lower jaws started to become less prominent, and in essence, shrunk. This was linked to about the time we as humans started to develop larger brains and become smarter. In fact, some people (including myself) never even developed their wisdom teeth, and if I were a bettin’ man, I’d say we may see that more and more in the future, seeing how they (the wisdom teeth) may be becoming more and more obsolete.
A lot of patients that I see in the office, that have wisdom teeth still, have something called impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth are basically (in my words) those wisdom teeth that do not develop correctly in the mouth, due to lack of room. There are different types of impactions, ranging from wisdom teeth growing into the teeth next to them, to the wisdom teeth just remaining wholly, or partially under the gums, perpetually. Impacted wisdom teeth may also cause problems to–or damage–the teeth surrounding them. There may also become infected themselves, or help to cause the surrounding gums to become infected. You can find out a little more about impacted wisdom teeth here at the AAOMS website.
So as you may have come to realize, the varying opinions on what to do with wisdom teeth does have…heh…wisdom behind them after all (sorry, I had to). It’s not all just opinion after all.
What should you do with your wisdom teeth?
Well, as always, that’s a very good question, dear reader, and I’m glad you brought it up. I’ll give you an answer, even though it may not be the answer you want. What you should do with your wisdom teeth depends on more variables than I can determine here and now, knowing nothing more about you than that you can read these words. So, as I usually do, I’d have to refer you to your dentist. Yes, that’s right. You should probably find out exactly what you should do with your wisdom teeth from your dentist. It’s a novel idea, I know.
I can say this with a significant amount of confidence however; if your wisdom teeth are infected, or causing a significant amount of trouble, most dentists (as I’ve seen) will tell you to remove them rather than spend an excess amount of money trying to save that tooth or remedy the problems that would be caused by keeping them in. Also, from what I’ve seen, for the most part dentists will tell you to keep your wisdom teeth if they are not harming anything, if they have grown in normally, and are uninfected.