Family Dental Center

Posts for tag: wisdom teeth

The growth of the third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, usually happens between the ages of 17 and 21 - the time when we become old enough to have gained some wisdom about life. At Family Dental Center in Glenview, IL, our team of dentists - Dr. Sean Wisdom Teeth Cullinan, Dr. Michael Cullinan, Dr. Larry Zager, Dr. Alex Figueroa and Dr. Stella Haralampopoulos - have both the wisdom and knowledge that is needed to diagnose any potential problems with wisdom teeth. Here, they offer some insight into wisdom teeth and when they might need removed.

What is the purpose of wisdom teeth?

With so many people having them removed, it's natural to question the function of wisdom teeth. Scientists believe that our ancestors, so-called "cavemen," needed this extra set of molars to help them chew the tough, uncooked staples of their diets - roots, tree nuts and meat.

Unfortunately, our skulls, in particular our jawbones, are much smaller than those of our predecessors, which helps explain why so many of the patients we see at Family Dental Center in Glenview have wisdom teeth growing in at odd angles. There simply isn't enough room for them to grow in properly.

What problems can wisdom teeth cause?

Some lucky patients have wisdom teeth that grow in evenly and without incident. Many others, however, have issues when their wisdom teeth begin to erupt. If the wisdom teeth don't have enough room to break through, for example, they can create a crevice in the gums that traps food and can lead to infection. Infections can also happen if the teeth aren't cleaned properly due to their remote location in your mouth. Wisdom teeth can also come in crookedly and push your other teeth out of alignment. The development of these problems can usually be seen by your Glenview dentist on an x-ray, and removal may be suggested to prevent further complications.

As wisdom teeth begin to grow in, you may feel some pressure or even pain in the back of your mouth. If you've been experiencing these symptoms, or are reaching the "age of wisdom," give Family Dental Center in Glenview, IL a call to schedule an evaluation. Our dental team will be able to devise a plan that's smart for you and your unique dental needs!

By Family Dental Center
March 24, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

Not long ago, Glee star Lea Michele had all of her wisdom teeth removed. This is a very common procedure that people in their twenties, like Michele, often undergo to prevent serious dental problems down the road. The actress found that the procedure really was actually not very difficult to tolerate.

“Feeling all better from my surgery!” she tweeted to fans a few days later. “Back to work tomorrow.”

Why do wisdom teeth so often cause problems? For one thing, they come in years later than the other 28 permanent teeth — usually between the ages of 17 and 25. By that time, there is often no room in the jaw to accommodate them. As man has evolved, the jaws have actually become smaller in size — often creating a lack of space for the wisdom teeth to erupt into proper position. If wisdom teeth become blocked (impacted) by other molars that are already there, infection and damage to neighboring teeth may result.

Sometimes the wisdom teeth themselves cause the problem by growing in at an odd angle. They push against other teeth, often compromising the adjacent tooth's supporting bone. While you would think pain would occur if any of these problems were present, that does not always alert us to a wisdom-tooth problem. It's usually diagnosed with the help of x-rays.

Wisdom tooth extraction is often performed in the dental office using a local anesthetic (numbing shot) to keep you from experiencing any pain, along with conscious sedation to help you relax. The type of anesthesia that's best for you will be determined before the procedure.

After we gently remove the tooth or teeth, you may need to have the site sutured (stitched) to promote healing. You will rest for a short time before going home, and may need to have someone drive you, depending on what type of anesthesia you were given.

Once you get home, you should apply an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for about five minutes on, five minutes off for as many hours as possible to help reduce any postoperative swelling on the first day. Starting on the second day, the warm moist heat of a washcloth placed on the cheek and hot salt water rinses will make you more comfortable. You may want to eat soft foods and brush your teeth very carefully during the recovery period, which lasts only a few days as Lea Michele discovered. Before you know it, you'll be “feeling all better!”

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.”

By Family Dental Center
July 17, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  

Of all the teeth in the mouth, the ones receiving the most discussion and controversy would have to be the wisdom teeth or third molars. And this is not just a recent phenomenon, as people have been discussing them for centuries! See how much you really know about wisdom teeth by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. Third molars received their name, “wisdom teeth,” because a moderate amount of wisdom is supposedly achieved in life about the time they appear.
    True or False
  2. Wisdom teeth and all of their associated problems are commonplace in the practice of dentistry.
    True or False
  3. Because wisdom teeth are so unpredictable, they typically make their appearance between the ages of 17 and 25.
    True or False
  4. The most common consequence of impacted wisdom teeth is gum (periodontal) disease.
    True or False
  5. If wisdom teeth are not removed, they will become impacted or cause crowding. This is why so many people require orthodontic treatment (braces).
    True or False
  6. While most people have four wisdom teeth, having more (supernumerary teeth) or less (hypodontia) is possible.
    True or False
  7. Through dental x-rays and routine check-ups, we can predict the timing and way in which wisdom teeth become visible (erupt).
    True or False
  8. An impacted wisdom tooth, by definition, is a third molar that is colliding with or jammed against another important structure, such as an adjacent tooth, the gums or other important soft tissues in the mouth, or nerves and blood vessels.
    True or False
  9. The primary symptom for indicating you have an impacted wisdom tooth is pain.
    True or False
  10. If wisdom teeth need to be removed, it is best to remove them at a younger age rather than waiting until periodontal disease has started.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. 2) True. 3) True. 4) True. 5) False. While wisdom teeth can be a factor in crowding, some people have no issues with these teeth. For them, they grow into proper position and are healthy teeth. 6) True. 7) False. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the way wisdom teeth will erupt. 8) True. 9) False. In some scenarios, impacted wisdom may cause no pain. 10) True.

To learn more about wisdom teeth and in particular, impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.