Wisdom teeth are the third and last set of molars that develop at the back of the mouth. They usually erupt at around 18 years old and come in sets of four—two at the top and two at the bottom. The cells that we need to get wisdom teeth are in our jaws at birth, but they don’t start developing until about 7 years old. Dentists can see them on X-rays by 12 years, but they only come through about 6 years after this. As one of the best dentists in Surrey, we prefer to examine each patient individually before recommending the removal of wisdom teeth.
The Purpose of Wisdom Teeth
Contrary to popular belief, the third set of molars have nothing to do with wisdom. Their purpose is biting and chewing, just like our other teeth. Scientists think they could have evolved to replace other molars as they got worn out chewing the much more abrasive diet our ancestors lived on. That theory would account for the fact that they erupt almost on top of the others, which of course no longer wear out by the age of 18 years! In addition, human jawbones are smaller now than our ancestors’ jaws were, so there’s even less space for an extra set of teeth.
Reasons for Removing Wisdom Teeth
The arrival of wisdom teeth in modern humans frequently results in an overcrowded mouth, with teeth jostling for space. Occasionally, the third molars get impacted on top of existing teeth, causing pain and discomfort that can result in gum inflammation and infection. For these reasons, dentists typically recommend surgical tooth extraction to remove the teeth as soon as they appear. This is particularly important in teens who have undergone orthodontic treatment because the arrival of wisdom teeth can alter the alignment of teeth straightened by orthodontics.
Another reason why the best dentists in Surrey could recommend removing wisdom teeth without delay is that once the roots are fully developed and established, they are closer to the inferior alveolar nerve in the jaw. Damage to this nerve can cause lasting problems for the patient, so earlier removal is safer.
Getting your wisdom teeth removed usually takes place under oral sedation, especially if they are all being extracted at the same time. For patients familiar with what oral sedation is like, the process is simple, and the sedation is not usually deep enough to need breathing assistance. The dental surgeon also uses a local anesthetic to create numbness around the surgical sites, and patients who prefer can opt to receive numbing agents only. The practitioner removes the tooth as well as any pieces of bone that block access to the root, then cleans out all remaining tooth materials before sealing the wound.
Getting the Timing Right
These days, dentists are increasingly waiting a little longer before removing wisdom teeth. This is partly because of the risks involved with anesthesia and surgery, as well as the tooth extraction cost in BC for the procedure. Oral health practitioners often prefer to keep the wisdom teeth, provided both patient and dentist closely monitor them. In many instances, the teeth remain for years without causing problems, but in others, the cost of infection, gum disease, and decay make it paramount to remove them.
Treatment and After-Care
As one of the best dentists in Surrey, BC, we recommend keeping your mouth as clean and sterile as possible until the surgery. Afterwards, rinse it three to four times a day with warm salt water, especially after eating, to remove any stray food particles.
For more information on wisdom tooth removal, please contact our qualified and experienced team to discuss your options. Click here to schedule an appointment with us or call 604-593-7866.