If your kid is one of the 2 percent of folks born without wisdom teeth – consider yourself lucky! If your kid falls in with the vast majority of people, however, you can expect that wisdom tooth removal will become a topic of conversation with your dentist sooner or later. Wisdom tooth pain is said to be the number 1 reason young adults ask for an emergency dental appointment, so you might as well prepare yourself for a procedure that is almost a rite of passage for most adolescents.
The most common age range for wisdom teeth to erupt is between 17 and 25. That said, it can take years for all four wisdom tooth to make their grand entrance. Approximately 90 percent of 20-year-olds are still waiting for at least one more of their wisdom teeth to fully erupt. Some people don’t even get the full set until their late 30s!
Not everyone has to have his or her wisdom teeth pulled. Here’s where luck comes into play yet again. Every now and again, some fortunate soul suffers no ill effects from wisdom teeth growing in. They emerge perfectly straight, without major fuss, and somehow manage to stay completely healthy. May these odds stay forever in your favor.
But for most of us, there’s the dreaded…
Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come in, but commonly the first (and most frequent) to go. Why? Because in many people they cause nothing but problems. Quite often they grow in crookedly, crowding other teeth and pushing them out of their proper alignment. They are also highly susceptible to decay, causing painful dental cavities that may spread to neighboring healthy teeth. Wisdom teeth are notoriously difficult to reach with a toothbrush for proper cleaning, resulting in the growth of harmful bacteria that happily chip away not only on the wisdom tooth, but on adjacent teeth as well. In addition, the tissue around wisdom teeth becomes inflamed easily, causing infections that aren’t any fun at all.
Actually, forget about the horror stories of old (you know, the ones involving enormous pliers and a bottle of brandy) – the procedure of wisdom tooth extraction itself doesn’t have to be painful at all these days. In fact, removal is often a relief for the patient! Pain-wise, most people could easily handle wisdom tooth extraction with just a local anesthetic. Comfort-wise, however, patients tend to opt for deeper levels of sedation like oral sedation or even general anesthesia. That’s because most of us can’t bear the thought of anxiety-inducing crunching noises, strong pushing sensations, or the shrill sounds of dental machinery.
…a tooth bank, that is. Wisdom teeth contain stem cells, and they could potentially save your smile someday. Stem cell technology may one day allow you to re-grow missing teeth, andperhaps treat other medical conditions. Wisdom tooth stem cell technology is still in its early stages, and practical applications for human patients may take many years to fully develop, but it’s never too early to plan for the future. Talk to your dentist to learn more about wisdom tooth banking!
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