Ifyou are someone who is about to have their wisdom teeth removed, you probablyhave many questions swirling around in your brain (besides "whyme?"). You might be wondering why we even have teeth that are taken outalmost as soon as they come in, why they have to be removed at all, and howyour cousin, Gertrude, avoided having wisdom teeth removal surgeryaltogether.
WhatAre Wisdom Teeth?
Formost people, their wisdom teeth start coming in when they are about 16, butthey can come in as late as the age of 25.
Scientiststhink that wisdom teeth are left over from the days of our early ancestors.With diets that were less than friendly to teeth and a lack of proper dentalhygiene, it was common for early humans to lose teeth by the time they were intheir late teens or early 20s. Wisdom teeth were a way for early humans to makeup for some of the teeth they may have lost, to ensure that they could eat andsurvive.
Interestingly,about 35 percent of people nowadays don't ever have wisdom teeth thatdevelop—this is a good indication that modern man no longer needs wisdom teethto survive, and that there may come a day when no one develops them at all.
WhyDo Wisdom Teeth Have to Be Removed?
Yourdentist might recommend that your wisdom teeth come out if they are impacted,which means that the tooth is not coming through the gum correctly. It might beerupting at an angle that is going to cause harm to other teeth, or it might berubbing up against the cheek.
Evenif your incoming wisdom teeth aren't causing you pain and don't seem to be developingin a way that will harm your other teeth, your dentist might recommend thatthey be removed. Many dentists feel that leaving wisdom teeth in is just askingfor infection, since bits of food are hard to remove way back there, even withgood brushing and flossing habits. These infections can be very painful andeven dangerous to the patient's health. The bacteria that build up in such acase may lead to gum disease or worse—it is possible for the bacteria to getinto the bloodstream and cause an infection that affects the heart or otherorgans.
Ifa wisdom tooth is not extracted, a cyst or tumor may develop around the toothand cause problems for the jaw, nerves, or other teeth.
Withall of these scenarios, you might figure it is best to just get your wisdomteeth taken out. However, if they are not causing you any pain, and yourdentist believes the teeth and the gums look healthy, you might be able toavoid the extraction procedure. Of course if you decide to keep them, yourdentist will want to keep a close eye on them.
Whatto Expect Before, During, and After Surgery
Anoral or maxillofacial surgeon will probably be the one who will be removingyour teeth. Before the surgery, the doctor should explain the procedure to you,and answer any questions you have. One thing the doctor will discuss with youis your anesthesia choice—either general or local anesthesia or intravenoussedation.
Usuallythe teeth can be extracted right there in the doctor's office. You should makesure that a friend or family member is there to drive you home.
Onceyou get home, make sure you follow your doctor's instructions to take care ofyourself and your mouth. Your doctor will probably prescribe medication to helpease any pain. You can use cold compresses to reduce swelling. It probably goeswithout saying that you should eat soft foods such as ice cream and mashedpotatoes. You might also need to make sure you have a couple of days where youget to stay home and rest.