Wisdom Teeth: What Are Wisdom Teeth & What Age Do They Come?

<div class="article-body">If there is a set of teeth that we all have a love-hate relationship with, it is the wisdom teeth or the last molars. While most of our permanent teeth come in around the age of 10-11, wisdom teeth erupt much later in life, between the ages of 17 to 21 - and for some of us, well into our 20s. So, in this article, let us discuss what are wisdom teeth and why we have them. </div>


What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that come in later in life. They are known as ‘wisdom’ teeth because they are the last to emerge, the premise being that one is ‘wiser’ when these teeth come in. So what is the use of wisdom teeth? Well, when the wisdom teeth come through properly, they can help you to chew and be an added helpful tool in your perfect dental set. However, that’s not always what happens.

If you are wondering why do we have wisdom teeth, there is an evolutionary reason for it. Wisdom teeth were once very important for our ancestors - these molars helped crush the hard food that our ancestors ate, such as raw meat, leaves, nuts, roots, and the like. But over the centuries as humans cultivated agriculture and learned how to cook, the foods we eat became softer and easier to chew. Therefore, wisdom teeth are no longer required. Also, over centuries, the jaw structure of human beings has changed, so it isn’t surprising that wisdom teeth often do not grow the way they should and that most people require wisdom teeth extraction these days.

Oral health problems with wisdom teeth

You may not always see all your wisdom teeth, but that does not mean they aren’t there. Sometimes, the wisdom teeth don’t erupt or become visible - the only way you can confirm it is through an x-ray. But whether they are visible or not, they can surely cause oral health issues for modern human beings because of evolution and changes in our jaw structure. Some scientists believe it can be because our brains got bigger over time, and our jaws got smaller to accommodate for it. So most of the oral health problems caused by wisdom teeth are simply due to the fact that they just don’t fit.

Here are some problems that wisdom teeth can cause:

  • Jaw pain

  • Crooked teeth

  • Crowded teeth

  • Tooth decay

  • Possible cysts or tumours under the gums

  • Wisdom teeth growing sideways

Sometimes, a wisdom tooth may break through the gums but only be seen partially - this is known as a partially impacted wisdom tooth. If it gets completely stuck under the gum, then it is known as a fully impacted wisdom tooth. These impacted wisdom teeth are more susceptible for tooth decay , gum disease, and other dental problems. So, if one or more of your wisdom teeth have become impacted, you may have symptoms such as:

  • Bad breath

  • Pain or swelling around the jaw

  • Bleeding, red, or swollen gums

  • Bad taste in the mouth

  • Difficulty or discomfort in opening your mouth

According to the American Dental Association, if wisdom teeth are causing trouble and displaying any of the above changes, then it is best to get it professionally removed. It is also ideal to have wisdom teeth removal surgeries early on in life, preferably when you are a teenager - so it is recommended that people in their teenage years be assessed for wisdom teeth removal surgery.

Treating impacted wisdom teeth

Extracting wisdom teeth may sound scary, but here’s the good news - wisdom teeth removal surgery is typically an outpatient procedure - which means that it is safe, and you can go home the very same day. Wisdom teeth extraction is performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon, and you may be administered anesthetic drugs for the same. You may either be given:

  • Sedation anesthesia: this will block the pain and relax you

  • Local anesthesia: this will numb your mouth.

  • General anesthesia: this will be administered if needed, to make you sleep and not feel anything throughout the procedure.

In this procedure, the dentist or oral surgeon will first make a cut in your gums, then take out the problematic bone before extracting the tooth. The incision will be closed with stitches and the space will be packed with gauze. This procedure takes no longer than about thirty to sixty minutes

You will be able to get back to your normal activities a few days after the surgery, and for the mouth to heal completely, it takes up to six weeks. Eat soft foods for the first week. It is normal to experience some bleeding, swelling, and pain. Your dentist will give you a set of instructions to follow, from medications to using a cold compress when you feel the pain.

If you think your wisdom teeth might be impacted, it is important to maintain impeccable oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day using advanced dental products such as Oral-B electric toothbrush and Oral-B essential waxed floss and visit the dentist as soon as you can.

Additional Reading:

  1. Good oral and dental hygiene tips

  2. How to Choose A Toothbrush

  3. The effect of smoking on dental health