Wise Up: Everything You Need To Know About Wisdom Teeth

Some people have four. Some have three with two facing sideways. Some people have none. Despite their name they don’t bring you any added insight, but because they come to you later in life you’re thought to be a little wiser when they first appear. Wisdom teeth! The molar whose motto is “can live without them!” Approximately 85% of people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed during their lifetime. So then why do we have them in the first place? Maybe you’ve heard some horror stories about wisdom tooth extraction. What’s the procedure like?

Why Do These Things Exist?

Wisdom teeth are considered vestigial organs. This means that over time the purpose they are thought to have once served has become obsolete and accordingly so have wisdom teeth! Scientists believe that wisdom teeth were used during a point in history when the human diet was a little tougher on our teeth. You wouldn’t try eating roots today, but if you did your wisdom teeth could prove themselves quite useful! Nuts, tough meats, leaves and other chewy foliage were all staples of the human diet long ago. In addition to the change in our diet, the human jaw has also become smaller over time. There’s less room for wisdom teeth to comfortably fit in our mouths. This prevents the teeth from making their way through our gums and instead they become impacted. Any sort of impacted tooth can cause major problems in our mouths. Occasionally you may meet someone whose wisdom teeth have come in nicely, facing the right way who doesn’t need to have them removed. This is uncommon.Gum disease, prevention, greenspoint dental

Types Of Impaction

When a wisdom tooth is impacted it remains below the gum line and doesn’t erupt. Impaction is usually caused by the alignment of the tooth or overcrowding. This is the most common reason wisdom teeth need to be removed. Impacted teeth can cause a lot of problems in your mouth including:

  • Impacted teeth can cause a constant dull ache or discomfort in the jaw.

  • Sometimes a tooth can poke through the gum and still be considered impacted if it isn’t able to come in completely. In these cases food and bacteria can become trapped under the flap of gum that still partially cover the tooth.

  • Impaction can cause decay of neighboring teeth.

  • Sometimes impaction can also cause cysts and tumors around the site of impaction.

There is actually more than one type of impaction or ways that a tooth can become impacted. In fact, there are four. These types are:

  • Mesioangular impaction- Or “mesial” impaction means that the tooth is angled towards the front of the mouth. This is the most common type of tooth impaction.

  • Distoangular impaction- This is the opposite of mesial impaction, as the tooth is angled backwards toward the throat.

  • Horizontal/vertical impaction- As the name implies these types of impaction occur when a tooth is either completely horizontal, facing the molar in front of it (least common type) or vertical, facing the roof of the mouth.

  • Soft tissue impaction- As we said earlier, a tooth can be impacted even if the crown or top of the tooth manages to poke its way through the gum.

About 70% of people have at least one of their wisdom teeth impacted.

Wisdom Tooth Removal

You’ll first need to visit your dentist and have x-rays done before it can be determined whether or not it will be necessary for you to have your wisdom teeth extracted. An extraction is usually priced differently depending on the degree and type of impaction. This will allow your doctor to price your surgery. If it’s been decided that you will have your wisdom teeth removed, be sure to get the facts! How much is the procedure estimated to cost? Will all of the teeth be removed? How long will the procedure last? Feel comfortable in asking your doctor these sorts of necessary questions. It’s often harder to remove the teeth the older you are. This is because the roots of the teeth grow and lengthen, occasionally wrapping dangerously around facial nerves. It’s always best to have them removed as early as possible. Wisdom tooth extraction is usually done under a local anesthetic. This means only the site of the extraction will be numbed. However this form of anesthesia is often used in conjunction with other forms to lightly sedate the patient. Although some doctors offer numerous options in (including general anesthetic) this is the most common one. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which is appropriate for you. During the procedure your doctor may:

  • Cut through the gum to reach the teeth beneath.

  • Sometimes your doctor will opt to break the tooth apart into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove.

  • Occasionally any bone that is covering the tooth may have to be removed.


Maybe the hardest part of wisdom tooth extraction and the part that you will play the biggest role in is the recovery period. Recovering from the procedure is different for everyone. A lot will depend on what exactly your doctor had to do to remove the teeth. If any bone was removed you can expect your recovery to last a little longer. Here are some tips and things to expect during the recovery period:

  • It is crucial that you rest. While you might think you only had something done to your teeth, the rest of your body is ready to participate in normal life, you are wrong. Sometimes just getting up and walking around is enough to get your blood flowing to the site of extraction and have you swell up!

  • Don’t drink from a straw. After surgery it’s crucial that you avoid putting pressure on the sockets, which are trying to heal and clot, by sucking through a straw. This same kind of pressure can occur if you attempt to suck food out of your teeth or a similar action.

  • You can expect not to eat regularly for awhile. Try soups and gelatins and keep your mind on what you can eat once healed!

  • While you won’t exactly be able to brush your teeth the way you did prior the surgery for awhile, it’s important you clean the site of extraction. Your doctor might provide a syringe which you can use to gently stream water into the hole.

Call Dr. Bosse of Greenspoint Dental for any dental needs! And if you haven’t already, talk to a doctor about your wisdom teeth status!