Wisdom and your teeth

Wisdom teeth really have nothing to do with wisdom other than the fact that they erupt in your mouth about the time wisdom is supposed to put in an appearance in your life. i.e. about 18 years

Of course we all know the likelihood of wisdom appearing that early in our lives :) At 18 these days - we are just about ready to begin to make out mistakes...forget about learning how to rectify them or avoid them.

So back to teeth - These so called wisdom teeth - are just like the rest of your teeth. The only thing different is time when they come out of the closet(bone) - 17-25 years as opposed to all the other teeth which have finished appearing by the age of 13-14.

Why do wisdom teeth give so much trouble?

The theory goes that with each passing generation and as part of evolution in response to the kind of food we eat etc - our jaw sizes are reducing. However our teeth have remained unchanged with time. Result - less space in the jaw to accommodate the full complement of teeth.

So what we are left with - is one or two or all four wisdom teeth stuck in the jaw for all eternity. No matter what we try - they are never going to erupt into the mouth - simply because there is ABSOLUTELY no space. It’s much like fitting a huge cupboard into a tiny room - it isn't even going to get past the doorway. Sometimes it could be the case of trying to get the cupboard in horizontally instead of vertically. In case of the tooth we cannot rotate it to enter the mouth in the right direction.

So now what?

If it isn't giving you any trouble - and it is not causing any trouble - then the thing to do is - LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE. If it begins to pain or you are having regular episodes of discomfort - you need to have it checked.

What is the treatment?

First things first - the dentist will probably want to see an x-ray of the tooth. In all probability you may have to take an OPG (which is basically an x-ray of all the teeth together)

 If the tooth looks like it can erupt naturally - the dentist will aid in its eruption by cutting the gum tissue which is covering it and preventing it from coming out.

However if the position of the tooth looks as if it’s not going to ever erupt in a normal position or if the tooth is impinging on the tooth in front of it and damaging it the dentist will ask you to go in for a Disimpaction procedure.

Most people hear extraction surgery and want to jump off their chairs and run miles and never come back. I don't blame them :) It does sound scary.

But the truth is - it no longer is as inconvenient or painful. We won't lie - dental procedures will never really be pleasant. But they aren't torture anymore either.

All that is involved is a tiny injection (that too with topical anesthetic applied first so as to minimize the pain of the prick of the needle), a little pressure and a couple of stitches.

What can you expect after the surgery?

1. A little swelling (minimal if you apply ice after the procedure)
2. A little decrease in mouth opening ( for a few days)
3. Little or no pain (because you will be taking painkillers). Very rarely will there be severe pain (only in cases of dry socket)

Maybe - just maybe - it’s called a wisdom tooth - because there is a whole lot of wisdom in removing it rather than bearing the pain of having it in your mouth.