What do you mean wisdom teeth don’t make me smarter??

Considering how uber concerned your West Seattle dentist, Dr. Kirchner is about keeping you informed on all things dental, we thought we’d talk this week a little bit about your wisdom teeth.

Seriously, why are they called wisdom teeth?

Great question! Wisdom teeth, or your third molars, are called wisdom teeth because they develop later in life, usually between the ages of 16-25.  Since you are no longer a child when they develop and potentially grow in, you are supposedly wiser, thus wisdom teeth!

Xray of an actual mouth with impacted wisdeom teeth

See the crazy sideways tooth? That’s a wisdom tooth!

What’s the deal with wisdom teeth anyway?  

Wisdom teeth are believed to be a set of teeth that were useful to our ancestors that ate more raw plant life.  Since we used to not be able to digest plant cellulose efficiently  we had larger jaws with more teeth to grind everything down before it hit our stomachs.  Since our diets have obviously changed, our jaws have evolved and become smaller, usually meaning that our wisdom teeth don’t fit in our mouths anymore and need to be yanked.

Why can’t we just leave them in our jaws?

Here’s the scoop: Since you’ve evolved and now have a smaller jaw, your third set of molars, the wisdom teeth, can’t properly grow into your mouth anymore.  This can lead to them growing into other places instead, like sideways into the teeth in front of them.  When this happens, its called impaction, and is serious need for them to come out, since they can A: infect the teeth around them, B: move the teeth around them, C: infect the bone around them, D: cause serious pain.  Click here for a nifty video explaining Wisdom teeth.

So what happens when wisdom teeth are “yanked”?

Dr. Kirchner will send you to an oral surgeon that will take a Panoramic X-ray of your head and evaluate where the wisdom teeth are located.  He will then numb you up, make  little incisions, and pull them out.  Remember this post?   If not, check it out and it goes over step by step what happens when a tooth is pulled.  Usually, since you’re getting 4 done at the same time, you are put under anesthesia and don’t feel or remember a thing.  Thus, awesome crazy videos of people coming out from anesthesia after they’ve had their wisdom teeth pulled.  YouTube it.  I’m sure you’ll find plenty!

The important thing to remember when getting your wisdom teeth out is to follow all of your Oral Surgeons post-op instructions for the fastest recovery.

Have some third molar pain?  Give the office a call so we can get you evaluated!