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What You Need to Know About Wisdom Teeth

By HERWriter
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Wisdom teeth (also known as third molars) usually start forming as a child enters their pre-teen years. On a dental X-ray they will appear as round, white fuzzy areas in the back of the mouth behind the other teeth.

While most people will develop four wisdom teeth (two upper/two lower), some people will develop only two wisdom teeth and there have been cases where patients have developed six wisdom teeth.

Contrary to popular belief, wisdom teeth do not make you wiser. Left in place, they can pose many threats to the neighboring teeth, hence the reason most dental practitioners recommend them for extraction.

Reasons for Extraction

Some patients just don't have room for the third molars to erupt (come in) and as these bigger teeth remain in place they will push against the existing teeth, moving them out of their ideal chewing position and increasing the forces on the TMJ (temporomandibular joint).

One of the most common reasons to remove wisdom teeth is if a patient is undergoing orthodontic treatment. The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to align the teeth and jaws in their ideal position for function. If wisdom teeth are not extracted they can affect the success of orthodontic treatment. They can affect the actual treatment itself or can cause teeth to shift after the orthodontic brackets (braces) are removed.

Many patients experience headaches and jaw aches associated with the presence of wisdom teeth, usually the result of the teeth being impacted - not enough room in the mouth for the teeth to erupt through the gum.

Potential Risks and Complications

The difficulty of the extraction process varies from patient to patient. Generally, most oral surgeons and other qualified dental practitioners will remove the wisdom teeth under IV sedation in a standard dental office. If the extractions are done in conjunction with other orthodontic treatments, they may be done in hospital under a general anaesthetic. Obviously, there is always the potential for the patient to react adversely to the medications administered both peri- and post-operatively.

Add a Comment4 Comments

I would have loved to read something so thorough and detailed before I had my wisdom teeth out. Even though I had normal extractions and no major problems after the surgery, recovery was surprisingly tough. I needed pain medicine, and I didn't feel like eating anything. But without much food, the pain medicine made me nauseous, and I threw it up. This is really not good when you have fresh open wounds in your mouth from where the teeth were.

Thanks for the information. I know many people will appreciate it.

August 7, 2009 - 8:49am
HERWriter (reply to Diane Porter)

You're welcome. That's one of the reasons I write these articles. Dentistry is a rather obscure topic for many people.

Wisdom teeth extraction is usually a lot more complicated than a "normal" extraction because often the teeth are not exposed.

As for medications, the nausea was probably due to the Codeine in the Tylenol III. They are often prescribed, but not always necessary. I personally prefer to limit myself to Extra Strength Tylenol without codeine (this works really well for me), but I know others have allergies to Tylenol and for others it won't work as well.

These are symptoms that people should discuss with the nurse after their extractions.

Anyway...thank you for your comments.

August 7, 2009 - 9:08am

My research comes from what I have learned from working with six oral surgeons (two of whom had over 30 years experience in dentistry) and typing patient treatment plans for six years. I don't believe it is accurate to say to everyone that they don't need their wisdom teeth taken out. There are actually many patients who do still have them in. They are usually addressed with extraction if there have been TMJ issues, and headaches, and where their presence may affect the successful outcome of orthodontic treatment.

Whether or not to proceed with removal is always up to the patient, but rarely are wisdom teeth removed without sufficient reason. And, as with any procedure, there is always that chance that something will not go according to plan.

August 6, 2009 - 12:53pm
EmpowHER Guest

I really think you should do more research on wisdom teeth removal and visit my website http://www.teethremoval.com

July 30, 2009 - 10:12pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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