Wisdom teeth are the very last molars to arrive, usually making their appearance when you are in your late teens or early twenties. Many people don’t have enough room for this set of molars, making it necessary to have them removed.

When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

It isn’t always necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed. Some people do have enough room, so it’s important to consult with your dentist about whether or not they should just be left alone. However, if they become impacted, removal will be necessary. Signs that a wisdom tooth has become impacted include:

  • Discomfort at the site
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Fever

The tooth might partially break through the gums, then be unable to emerge any further. It also might become impacted without visibly emerging. So if you have any symptoms that indicate a problem, you should talk to your dentist. Regular visits to your dentist allow the dentist to keep track of how your wisdom teeth are developing and whether or not a problem is likely to occur.

Removal of wisdom teeth, particularly if they have not emerged or are only possibly emerged, is usually performed by an oral surgeon. In most cases, the procedure is performed under local anesthetic with or without sedation for additional comfort. If the tooth has not emerged and requires more extensive surgery, general anesthetic might be necessary.

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

No one is completely sure why we have wisdom teeth. One theory is that early humans often lost at least one set of molars by the time they reached adulthood due to poor diet and lack of dental hygiene. In this situation, an additional set of molars would be welcome, because they would replace teeth that were absent or no longer usable. However, in today’s modern world where dental hygiene is sophisticated and we keep our teeth often for our entire lives, the wisdom tooth has lost its usefulness.

Call Northern Virginia Oral, Maxillofacial & Implant Surgery at one of our two convenient locations and set up a consultation with one of our caring surgeons.

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