What Are Wisdom Teeth, How Long Do They Take to Erupt, and Other Questions Answered

Position and purpose are the primary determinants in classifying teeth. Your front teeth, which are sharper and more able to tear food apart, are complemented by your back teeth, which are flatter and more able to grind food down into smaller pieces. These larger, flatter teeth are called molars. Three sets of molars, each with four teeth, are found in the upper, lower, and both sides of an adult's mouth.

Humans get their first set of "baby" teeth during infancy and early childhood, then lose them, and then get an entirely new set of permanent teeth during early adolescence. However, only two sets of molars (8 teeth total) come in during this process. Most people get their third molars, the ones at the very back of their mouths, between the ages of 17 and 21. Because they don't typically erupt until a person is "older and wiser," these molars are commonly referred to by this derogatory term. ”

It's possible that this third set of molars was necessary due to the tough diets of our forebears (think much less tender meat than we are able to prepare today).

At birth, all of a person's permanent teeth are already in place, higher in the skull. The first thing to happen is the eruption and eventual loss of 20 primary teeth. When 32 permanent teeth finally erupt, it's game over. The first permanent molars typically erupt between the ages of 6 and 12, while the third and final set (the wisdom teeth) don't appear until sometime between the ages of 17 and 21.

Anthropologists now believe that humans have evolved past the point of needing wisdom teeth due to the convenience of modern diets, so some people may never need them. The wisdom tooth is destined to follow the appendix out of fashion. Possible eventual extinction

Even so, wisdom teeth come in for the vast majority of adults in the modern era. 53% of adults over the age of 25 had at least one wisdom tooth emerge, according to one study. They were more common among men than among women.

Your wisdom teeth are still developing even if you can't see them all. Unfortunately, some people's wisdom teeth never erupt into view. If you suspect you have wisdom teeth but want confirmation, an X-ray can help.

It's a well-documented fact that humans, and specifically our jaws, have shrunk over time. It's likely that several factors have contributed to this evolutionary leap. There is a school of thought amongst scientists that holds that as the human brain expanded, the jaw shrank to make room. Most wisdom tooth issues arise from the fact that these teeth are poorly positioned in the mouth.

Wisdom teeth, whether they are outwardly visible or not, can be problematic for oral hygiene. Impaction refers to wisdom teeth that haven't broken through the gums yet. When this happens, it can be even more painful than when wisdom teeth are impacted.

Wisdom teeth issues include:

Several factors make wisdom teeth more prone to infection than other teeth. Because of their location at the very end of the oral cavity, flossing next to them can be tricky, leading to an increase in bacterial growth.

As a result of coming in amongst a full set of teeth, wisdom teeth can become partially impacted. Sometimes an infected condition called pericoronitis develops when gum tissue covers a wisdom tooth that has become partially impacted.

The following are some of the signs that you may have an infected wisdom tooth:

  • feeling pain or extreme sensitivity
  • sore or swollen gums
  • Gums that are red or bleed
  • fluid or oozing around the teeth that is white in color
  • bad breath
  • an unpleasant aftertaste
  • jaw pain
  • jaw enlargement
  • stiff jaw
  • difficulty in respiration, oral cavity opening, and/or vocal production

Schedule a visit to the dentist if you've been experiencing discomfort in the area of your back molars.

The severity of a wisdom tooth infection and the tooth's location will determine the best course of treatment. First, your dentist will recommend antibiotics to treat the infection. The best way to avoid reinfection after the infection has cleared up is to undergo dental work or surgical procedures.

In order to prevent further bacterial infection, your dentist may recommend filling any cavities or fissures around the tooth's point of eruption.

The best way to keep the area clean and prevent further discomfort is sometimes surgery, including partial or complete removal of the tooth.

Your dentist will be able to help you sort through all of your oral care options.

Even if there are no symptoms, many dentists will recommend removing the wisdom teeth. They may cause discomfort in the future if they crowd your mouth as they erupt, damaging or shifting other teeth. Your dentist may advise removal once they appear.

Having your wisdom teeth extracted before getting braces can help ensure that your jaw and teeth don't shift positions after you've had the orthodontic work done.

Adolescents should be evaluated for wisdom teeth removal surgery. People who have their wisdom teeth extracted when they are younger, before the roots and bone have fully formed, have a better chance of making a full recovery. In this way, we can head off any issues before they even arise.

You should think carefully about whether or not you want to have these teeth extracted because of the risks involved with any kind of surgical procedure. Your dentist must keep a close eye on your wisdom teeth if you opt not to have them extracted. Over time, wisdom teeth usually cause more issues.

Your wisdom teeth can be extracted by a dentist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Their pre- and post-operative instructions will be straightforward.

After dental surgery, your mouth is more susceptible to infection, so it's crucial that you take extra care to keep your wounds clean as directed by your dentist. This will likely involve rinsing with salt water, refraining from smoking, and eating foods that don't contain seeds or other small pieces that can irritate your gums as they heal.

It usually only takes a few days to feel back to normal after getting your wisdom teeth removed, but the pain can linger for up to a week. You should consult your dentist to find out what painkillers you can take.

Even though it's common to experience some discomfort after having your wisdom teeth extracted, many find that it's worth it to avoid future dental work by having them extracted.

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