General Health & Well-beingHealth & Nutrition

Are Wisdom Teeth a Nuisance?



Are Wisdom Teeth a Nuisance?

When I was in dental school, my teeth started to hurt. At times I did not want to eat. One day, I found it hard to open and close my mouth. I knew it was the wisdom teeth; it was time to take them out. I wanted to postpone the extraction as much as I could. Finally, I did get them extracted and everything returned back to normal. It wasn’t as difficult as it seemed; I got them extracted in lunch time and I was back to college the next day.

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt usually around the age of 17-25. They are considered vestigial. Vestigial organs are the ones which where valuable to our ancestors but are of little or no use now. One of the theories says that human ancestors had bigger jaws with more teeth which were used to chew down foliage to compensate for lack of ability to digest the cellulose. As human diet changed, smaller jaws gradually evolved. Other theory says that our ancestors ate very course diet which would wear out their teeth creating spaces. By the time, wisdom teeth were ready to erupt the other teeth would drift forward and create room for them.

Wisdom teeth are usually considered as trouble makers due to various reasons. The most common is impaction. In other words, there isn’t enough room for them to erupt. This causes a lot of pain and discomfort from pressure and infection. Impaction can be complete, where they are completely covered or partial in which a part of the tooth is visible in the mouth. In case of partial impactions, the opening allows the food and bacteria to enter. This can lead to infection and also decay in the tooth. Patients may find it hard to open their mouth due to pain.

They can be angled in different directions which might cause pressure on neighboring teeth and sometimes damage them. Also, their odd position might facilitate collection of food and plaque which will cause decay of the neighboring tooth.

In some patients tumors and cysts can develop around the impacted third molars. The incidence is very low and increases in older patients.

Not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted. At times, they can be of great value if they are healthy, properly aligned and have enough room to erupt in mouth. Your dentist will evaluate and decide what is best for you.

Post extraction complications:


Often, bleeding may continue from the extraction site. Place a piece of gauge on extraction site and bite on it till bleeding stops. I often tell my patients to bite on a tea bag. Avoid spitting and rinsing. Call your dentist if you have excessive bleeding.


After extraction the face will be little swollen use ice packs and anti inflammatory medicine. Apart from decreasing the inflammation, it will help with the pain.


The extraction site may get infected usually the dentist will prescribe antibiotics to avoid any infection after extraction.

Dry socket:

This happens when the blood clot gets dislodged from the extraction site. This can be a very painful ordeal. The healing process takes longer than usual.

Nerve Damage:

Rarely the nerve may get damaged due to trauma during extraction. The person experiences loss of sensation.

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Dr. Humairah

Dr. Humairah Shah is a dentist by profession and works in Torrance, California (USA). She has been working exclusively with children for the past 11 years.

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