Not So Smart: What’s the Deal with Wisdom Teeth?


Wisdom teeth aren’t so smart, if you think about it. What’s the deal with them, anyway? They grow in, crowd out other teeth, only to be pulled in the dentist’s chair. Here’s what you need to know about them and why they’re so much trouble.

Why Wisdom Teeth Cause Problems

Wisdom teeth are sometimes considered a remnant from pre-human ancestors. Many years ago, human beings had larger mouths, and a slightly different-shaped head. The larger oral cavity allowed wisdom teeth to grow in unimpeded. Today, many people’s mouths are smaller.

According to some experts, the real cause is modern farming, which is correlated with a measured decrease in the size and shape of humans – specifically our head shape.

Do Wisdom Teeth Really Cause Crowding?

Most dentists do not think that wisdom teeth cause crowding. Rather, many studies show that wisdom teeth do not cause crowding. Once fully developed, they are unable to exert any pressure on other surrounding teeth. Studies also show that people continue to have their teeth shift throughout their lives, regardless of whether wisdom teeth develop or have been removed.

Why You Should Have Those Teeth Pulled

If wisdom teeth are natural, why have them removed? Because they may develop into asymptomatic pathological conditions. For example, there are abnormal conditions, like lesions, which may not cause pain, but do progress to damage and destroy the structures in the mouth. In some cases, growths might be malignant and can spread to other areas of the body, causing conditions as varied as heart disease and stroke.

These conditions are caused by bacteria that work themselves between teeth and eventually below the gumline, where they cannot be reached. They move into the bloodstream, causing disease either in the blood or whatever organ they end up in.

Does It Hurt?

Sometimes, but not usually. Dentists, like RockCenter Orthodontics, use numbing injections to dull or eliminate the pain during the procedure. A few minutes after the injection, the teeth and the surrounding area will be totally numb.

During the procedure, you’ll feel a lot of pressure and pushing. However, you shouldn’t feel anything sharp or pinching. Once it’s all over, and the tooth starts to loosen, you might hear or feel a popping or crackling noise.

This is the tooth being extracted.

After the procedure, pain is highly dependent on a few things. First, your own perception of the incident and what you think it should feel like drives a lot of the sensation of pain. Yes, that’s right, much of the pain can be “all in your head.” Sometimes, the difficulty of the procedure can determine how painful it is, the length of the procedure, the number of teeth removed, any post-surgical complications, the effectiveness of the pain meds the dentist gives you and how well you follow the post-surgery recommendations.

Most people do not strictly follow the dentist’s recommendations, and this is why they experience more pain than they need to or should.

Isobel O’Donnell is studying dentistry and knows firsthand about wisdom teeth woes! She enjoys writing articles in her spare time, and what better subject than the one she is learning?!

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