Somewhere between the ages of 15 to 25 years, most people's third molars begin to erupt through the gum line at the very back of their mouths. However, the modern jaw shape often can't accommodate wisdom teeth, leading to either of two unhealthy conditions: crowding of existing permanent teeth, or impaction—the incoming molars get stuck in place. Since few people’s jaws can accommodate these large third molars, we typically examine our 11 and 12-year-old patients to predict the upcoming developmental positioning of the wisdom teeth, recommending extraction prior to 17 to 19 years of age.
While extraction may not sound like a lot of fun, it's far better than the typical alternatives. Crowded teeth can misalign your bite, cause jaw pain, and lead to gum disease, causing dental problems for the rest of your life. Partially-erupted wisdom teeth allow bacteria and germs to multiply, leading to infection or cyst formation; tumors may even grow on a trapped wisdom tooth. Impacted or partially-erupted wisdom teeth may force entry, pushing up in whichever direction they find the most give: sideways, vertically, backward, forward. They can become stuck while still fully encased in the jawbone (called a bony impaction), or prior to erupting through the gums (called a soft tissue impaction). Such impaction can cause pain, swelling, and infection. The good news is that extraction is a simple, routine surgical procedure that can usually be performed comfortably in one office visit.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction FAQs
If you believe that you or a young person in your care may need to get their wisdom teeth removed, Dr. Kalina and our team are ready to help. Before you contact us to make an appointment, however, it is understandable if you have questions about wisdom teeth and the extraction procedure. That is why we have put together this brief list of FAQs. If you do not see the information you were hoping for, you are more than welcome to call us so we can personally assist you.
Does Everyone Need to Get Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Some people can retain their wisdom teeth for a lifetime and suffer no ill effects from them. Dr. Kalina will carefully assess both the potential risks and rewards of removing your wisdom teeth before he makes any treatment recommendations. Some patients opt to get these teeth taken out even if there are no current indications that they will be a problem. They get the procedure done as a purely precautionary measure.
Can Older Adults Get their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Although most people who undergo wisdom teeth extractions in Mankato are in their late teens or early 20s, there is no upper age limit for this procedure. Some people whose wisdom teeth were unproblematic earlier in their life find that getting them removed is necessary when they are in their 30s, 40s, or even older. The surgery may be a bit more challenging for older individuals because bones become harder as people age. However, in most cases, older patients get through the procedure with no complications.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Researchers generally agree that the reason for wisdom teeth is related to the rough diet of the earliest humans. They required a third set of molars to help them consume an array of tough foods. As society advanced, however, techniques for preparing food have advanced, making wisdom teeth into vestigial (unnecessary) structures.
What Can I Expect After Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery?
Some soreness and swelling are normal after the procedure. You may need to use pain medications to take the edge off of your discomfort. Temporarily sticking to a soft diet is important so you do not irritate the surgical sites or dislodge your blood clots. You should also avoid the use of straws for a few days. Most people are back to feeling normal within a week or so of their surgery. If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery, give us a call as soon as you can. We are here to help!