Wisdom teeth, sometimes called third molars, are the source of much debate. If you’ve ever tried to Google search them, or asked a few friends about it, you know there are a variety of opinions on how to handle wisdom teeth.
First of all, what are they and why do we get them? Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that usually come in between age 17 and 25. Some people don’t form them at all, while other people’s wisdom teeth are concealed. There’s not a single “normal” result.
Scientists believe that early human beings ate more raw grains, plant life and other foods that required more molar surface for grinding. As we evolved and learned to cook food, our diet changed. The theory is that as we evolved, our lower jaws became smaller, leaving less space for wisdom teeth.
While we don’t need wisdom teeth, it’s not always necessary to remove them. At Future of Dentistry, we never recommend unnecessary surgery. For some people, there’s adequate room for wisdom teeth to emerge without overcrowding and the patient experiences no discomfort.
However, some wisdom teeth are impacted. If they only have room to partially emerge, “third molars” can cause infection, swelling and pain. They can affect the position and condition of neighboring teeth.
The wise choice is not to ignore wisdom teeth. Schedule a consultation and we’ll be able to determine the safe and healthy course of action.
There’s one other important factor to consider with third molars. More than half of the narcotic painkillers prescribed after wisdom teeth removal go unused, according to a new study. This increases the risk that someone other than the patient could misuse and abuse the medication, or it could be stolen. The study suggests this problem may contribute to the U.S. opiate epidemic.
Given how severe the opioid problem is in Greater Boston, this is something patients should keep in mind. If you have prescription painkillers after wisdom teeth removal, please dispose of any leftovers. You might try using one of the drop-off locations that local towns and cities have set up for safe disposal of medications.