Despite all they do for us, it’s easy to take our teeth for granted. Without teeth, we’d have difficulties with chewing our food, articulating when we speak, and communicating through facial expressions. As we grow, our adult teeth replace our baby teeth without much fanfare. The appearance of a certain set of teeth, however, is often able to catch our attention. These teeth are known as our wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are the last of the permanent adult teeth to appear. The exact timing of their arrival may vary depending on the person, but the typical age is between 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth are located in the back of the mouth, on the bottom and top, in each of the corners. In some cases, everything goes smoothly, but in other instances, the appearance of these teeth is problematic due to space constraints.
A wisdom tooth that does not have enough space in the mouth to grow properly is referred to as being impacted. Someone with an impacted wisdom tooth will typically experience pain and the development of an infection. Such problems indicate the need for a tooth extraction. This procedure can be performed by an oral surgeon or a dentist who will be armed with the necessary tools, such as a dental handpiece with dental bearings.
Prior to the surgery, anesthesia is administered. Depending on the patient and the complexity of the extraction, local (absence of pain but presence of consciousness) or general (absence of both pain and consciousness) anesthesia may be used. Then the dental professional makes an incision in the gum and removes the bone in order to gain access to the root of the wisdom tooth. If necessary, the wisdom tooth is divided into sections, and then it is removed. The wound is cleaned, ensuring it is free of debris before being stitched closed. To promote clotting and to control bleeding, gauze is placed over the extraction site.
Generally, wisdom teeth should be retained. Unless, of course, that wisdom tooth comes in the form of an impacted tooth!