By the time you reach your early teenage years, you typically have all the permanent teeth you need to comfortably chew and speak. While you might not need any more teeth, your body isn’t finished producing them. The wisdom teeth, or third molars, are technically the last teeth to come in. They might start trying to break through the gums when a person is in his or her late teens or when he or she is in the early twenties.
Since many people end up having their wisdom teeth removed, they can be a bit of a mystery. Whether you end up having yours taken out or not, there are a few things you probably want to know about the teeth themselves and the surgery to remove them.
Why Do People Have Them?
Wisdom teeth are a bit of a throwback to a time when people at a diet that consisted of tough, chewy meats, raw roots and crunchy grains. They needed the extra molars in the back of their mouths to help make light work of difficult to chew food.
Two major changes occurred in human development that make the wisdom teeth somewhat obsolete, although they continue to form in many people’s mouths. The first change was a change in diet. People learned to cook food, which made it softer and easier to chew with fewer teeth.
The second change was a change in the size of the human brain, and the size of the human jaw. People have bigger brains than their early ancestors. In turn, their jaws are smaller. There’s simply not as much space in the mouth for a third and final set of molars any longer, for the most part.
Do I Have to Have Them Removed?
Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth taken out. Some people never develop the teeth. Others have an adequate amount of space in their mouths and the third molars come in normally, without getting stuck or impacted. Although at one point in time, it was common practice to remove the teeth just in case, you and your dentist might want to take a more cautious, wait and see approach. If it looks as though your wisdom teeth are likely to cause problems, your dentist will most likely recommend removing them.
Is the Surgery Uncomfortable?
The wisdom tooth removal surgery itself is usually not uncomfortable at all, as you’ll most likely receive either a local anesthetic, which numbs the mouth, or be given sedation, so that you aren’t aware of what’s going on during the procedure at all. After the surgery, you will most likely feel some discomfort or pain, but your surgeon will write you a prescription for pain medication to help minimize any discomfort. Additionally, he’ll give you instructions for minimizing pain, such as using a cold compress near the area and avoiding hard or chewy foods for some time after surgery.
How complicated your surgery is depends on what is going on with your teeth. In some cases, the wisdom teeth do break through the gums normally and can simply be pulled out. In other cases, the teeth get stuck in the gums and might only erupt partially or not at all. In those cases, a surgeon will have to cut into the gums to remove the teeth, which can make the surgery take longer and extend the recovery period.
Should I Have Every Wisdom Tooth Removed?
You might not have all four wisdom teeth, in which case the surgeon would only remove the teeth that you do have. It might also be that some of your wisdom teeth are impacted or coming in at an awkward angle, but others aren’t. In that case, your surgeon might recommend removing only the teeth that are causing a problem or removing all the teeth, if there’s a chance that the normal teeth might cause an issue in the future.
Will My Insurance Cover the Surgery?
Whether or not your insurance covers wisdom teeth removal depends on the type of policy you have and whether the removal of the teeth is medically necessary. If your wisdom teeth are impacted and are causing you problems or are likely to cause you problems, insurance will most likely cover the surgery.
How much coverage the insurance company offers also depends on the policy. If your policy only provides a limited amount of coverage, you might have to a considerable amount of the cost out of pocket. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider before the surgery to see if it will offer coverage and how much of the cost you’ll end up being responsible for paying.
The practice of Gallardo & Lamas recently welcomed Dr. Juan Arroyo, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, to its team. Dr. Arroyo has more than 15 years of experience removing wisdom teeth and performing other types of oral surgery. If your dentist has recommended having your wisdom teeth removed and you are looking for a surgeon, contact Dr. Arroyo today. Call (305) 447-1447 to schedule a consultation.