Everyone has their own set of stories about their ‘tooth of maturity’ or what is popularly called ‘wisdom tooth’. Myths and facts surrounding these extraordinary pairs of teeth are abundant. It surely is a conversation starter around the water cooler. There would be stories about the little tingles you experienced at the time of its arrival to an important dinner you had to miss post removal of the same.
What are wisdom teeth after all? Going by the name one wonders if they are they really smarter than the rest of your teeth? They are actually the third and final set of molars that most people get at the rear end of the denture in their late teens or early twenties, which is supposedly the age when one is acquiring wisdom and hence the name.
Most people have two wisdom teeth on each side of the jaws making the total to four. The function of wisdom teeth is the same as other molars in your jaw. They are very useful for chewing and grinding when they are formed properly. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal. A partially grown wisdom teeth needs extraction because it accumulates food particles and develops severe soft tissue infections. In other words they are vulnerable to decay because they can entrap plaque and debris.
In general, medical professionals agree that wisdom teeth should be removed in instances such as infections and/or periodontal disease; cavities that cannot be restored; pathologies such as cysts, and tumours; and damage to neighbouring teeth. Removal is easier in young people, when the wisdom teeth roots are not yet fully developed and the bone is less dense. In older people, recovery and healing time tend to be longer.
Most of the time third molars can be removed with little or no pain. Usually they can be extracted at the oral and maxillofacial surgery office. Patients are given either local anesthesia, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.
Stem cell technology is the most happening advancement in the scientific field. The most recent information is that even dental stem cells can be preserved. They say that there is ‘wisdom in banking wisdom tooth’. For all practical purposes, it surely is food for thought!