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What Do I Do About My Wisdom Teeth?

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A group of female friends sitting on the beach discussing what their Sierra Vista, Arizona dentist told them about wisdom teeth.

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
– Quotation attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom teeth

If your wisdom teeth can offer insight like that, why would you ever have them removed? Most likely, you or someone you know has had them removed. It turns out there’s a solid reason.

In fact, wisdom teeth, which earned their name because they emerge at the onset of adulthood, aren’t all that wise. (Most people believe Eleanor Roosevelt came up with that statement on her own, but it’s no coincidence that it occurred after her wisdom teeth came in!)

Scientists believe that wisdom teeth helped our ancestors with a diet that was much harder on their teeth than our diet is to ours. However, they only begin to come in when people are around the age of 17 to 21 years of age. Since they emerge so late, after your other teeth are well-established, wisdom teeth often create unnecessary problems in your mouth.

If you keep your wisdom teeth, you might be able to eat beef jerky 10% faster, but the complications that can arise make them not worth the risk. (And if you eat enough beef jerky to think you might want to keep your wisdom teeth after all, you probably should speak to a nutritionist.)

What Can Go Wrong?

The main issue is that wisdom teeth become impacted. This means that your wisdom teeth cannot fully emerge, because your gums, back molars, or a combination of both are blocking them. Impacted wisdom teeth can create swelling and pain in your mouth. Additionally, they can be a difficult to keep clean, making you more likely to get cavities and gum disease.

Why Not Wait Until You Know There Is an Issue?

There are three good reasons to remove wisdom teeth before they cause problems, aside from the fact that they’re not necessary to help us process tough foods anymore.
1. When your wisdom teeth first emerge, the roots aren’t as established, making them easier to remove.
2. Wisdom teeth roots can grow near nerves, creating complications should you need to remove them later.
3. Recovery time is typically longer if you wait to get your wisdom teeth removed, with possible additional symptoms including excessive bleeding, numbness, and reduced jaw movement.

What Should I Do?

There is some debate if one should get their wisdom teeth taken out as soon as they come in. People with impacted wisdom teeth or other related complications should follow the advice of their dentist and take the proper action.

However, for many people, wisdom teeth can emerge with few or no complications. If this is the case for you, dental hygiene will become even more important to avoid cavities and gum disease. You will also want to stay consistent with your x-rays and professional cleaning visits to ensure your wisdom teeth stay healthy and clean.

Even if your wisdom teeth initially come in healthy, there’s no guarantee they won’t cause complications in the future. They could cause problems later in your life, which is a reason to just go ahead and have them removed.

Whatever you choose, your dentist will be able to track your wisdom teeth as and after they emerge. If you have questions about your wisdom teeth, please call or make an appointment with us today!