All You Need to Know About Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth have an interesting biological history and unless yours become problematic, you may never need to question where did these teeth come from? If you are having problems with your wisdom teeth, or have known someone who has, here’s some background information and what you might expect when they start poking through your gums.

Anthropologists, people who study people in the past and present, believe wisdom teeth, or the third set of molars, were the evolutionary answer to our ancestor’s early diet of coarse, rough food – like leaves, roots, nuts and meats – which required more chewing and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. Modern diets and technologies (like cutlery) have turned wisdom teeth into vestigial organs, or body parts that have become functionless due to evolution. 


Tooth development, from baby primary teeth to permanent teeth, takes place in an organized fashion, over a course of years. Wisdom teeth begin forming around your tenth birthday, and are the last set of molars on the tooth-development timeline, usually erupting between the ages of 17 and 25. Because this is the age that people are said to become wiser, the set of third molars has been nicknamed “wisdom teeth.”

Some people never get wisdom teeth, but for those who do, the number may be anywhere from one to four – and, on very rare occasions more, according to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, they can lead to all sorts of problems.

Because they’re so far back in your mouth, wisdom teeth may not come in normally. If your jaw has no room for an extra set of molars, or they don’t emerge properly, they can be trapped in your jawbone or gums, which can be painful and lead to a condition knowns as an impacted tooth. They may come in at a wrong angle and press against your other teeth. Finally, you may not be able to reach your wisdom teeth with your toothbrush or dental floss allowing for cavities or gum disease.

If your dentist or an oral surgeon say it’s time to remove your wisdom teeth, they will go over the procedure with you, checking for health concerns and any medications you may be taking and answer any questions you have about the surgery. You will need to plan time off from work or school to have your surgery and rest afterward at home. Set up child care, pet care, or a ride home as needed.

Following the surgery, and depending on the ease or difficulty in the removal processes, you’ll likely have swelling and discomfort for three or so days and your mouth may need a few weeks to completely heal. For a quicker recovery, follow your doctor’s instructions including using ice packs to curb swelling; gently open and close your mouth to exercise your jaw; and eat soft foods and drink plenty of fluids. Call your doctor if you have a fever, or if your pain or swelling doesn’t lessen.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction in Edmonton
If you have questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, call Westmount Dental Centre in Edmonton at 780-454-1269 today to set up an appointment.

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