This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
Wisdom teeth are normally the last teeth
to appear in the mouth. It usually happens when people are older and wiser. That
is, when they are in their late teenage years or early twenties.
teeth are molars, or chewing teeth at the back of the mouth. The third set of
molars, if you have them, are your wisdom teeth.
can grow into place normally and never cause a problem. But often there is not
enough room for them in the mouth. They might crowd the other teeth. Sometimes
they even push through the gums sideways.
impacted wisdom tooth is one that fails to completely rise through the gums --
the term is erupt. Wisdom teeth that only partly erupt can leave space for
bacteria to enter around the tooth.
Infection is a risk in these cases.
say people should have their mouths examined between the ages of sixteen and
twenty for placement of their wisdom teeth. X-rays can show wisdom teeth below
the gums. Those that are not well aligned and become impacted are often removed.
American Dental Association says removal is generally advised when wisdom teeth
only partly break through the gums. Removal is also advised if there is a
chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth will damage other teeth. And removal is
called for in cases where fluid collects around a wisdom tooth that is partly
or fully below the gum.
But why do we have wisdom teeth if we
often need to get them removed? One theory has to do with our diets. Scientists
say the diet of prehistoric humans probably required more chewing teeth. Life
was probably a little rougher on the teeth back then, too. So it was good to
removal of wisdom teeth is performed by oral surgeons. They say if removal is
advised, the best time to do it is before the teeth cause any problems or pain.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
says young adults are the best candidates for wisdom teeth removal. The group
says older patients may be at greater risk for disease in the tissue
surrounding the molars.
Patients can have
general anesthesia during the operation. Or they might choose to have a local
painkiller and remain awake. It may depend on the condition of the wisdom teeth
and the number to be removed.
surgery, there can be swelling of the gums and face and some pain. Both can be
treated with cold wraps and medication.
that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I'm Faith