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Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that typically start coming in during your late teens to early 20’s.  Sometimes they grow sideways impacted in the jawbone, or sometimes they come up into the gums and become impacted, causing pain and pushing the surrounding teeth sideways. When they only partially come up through the gums, they can cause infections from causing food to become stuck in your teeth. So if wisdom teeth can cause all of these issues, why do we have them?

The answer is found in human evolution. A very long time ago, our ancestors used to eat a diet of coarse foods, such as roots, leaves, nuts, and tough meat, that required very powerful molars. Over the course of evolution our jaws have become much smaller as we have developed techniques for cutting and breaking down our coarse foods and changing our diet to consist of many softer foods. The need for the third set of molars has diminished but they are still in the process of being phased out from non-use.

Aside from the pain that comes with impacted or developing wisdom teeth, they can also become a problem if they begin pushing on your other teeth to make room to grow. Cysts and tumors can also develop from impactions, besides infection.

Our dentists frequently perform wisdom teeth extractions, as these teeth should be removed as soon as possible when you start to feel the pain in the back of your mouth/jaw. However, treatment is not necessary if your wisdom teeth grow in properly aligned and do not cause irritation.

During your wisdom tooth extraction, we will numb the affected area before distributing a topical pain reliever and injecting pain reliever into the gums. After that, the procedure to remove your affected teeth is performed with little to no feeling in the area while you are under the medication.

Recovery consists of taking an antibiotic to prevent infection in the excavated area, and pain medication if necessary. Our El Portal dental team will provide you with aftercare instructions on how to care for your healing jaw, such as applying ice packs to reduce any swelling, as well as modifying your diet to consist mainly of soft foods.

Having regularly scheduled dental cleanings and checkups with the El Portal team allows us to monitor the progressive growth of your wisdom teeth. Through X-ray imaging, we can track and predict the pattern of your wisdom teeth before impactions become worse.

Have you seen your dentist yet this year?  Are you experiencing pain in your molars? Call (209) 385-1479 or request an appointment at our dental office in Merced online today.

Have you had your wisdom teeth removed due to pain or crowding? What was your favorite post-op food to eat?