What’s Up With Wisdom Teeth?


About 5 million wisdom tooth extractions take place in the United States annually. There a plethora of reasons for removing these teeth. They can cause pain, tumors, and tooth decay if not removed. This is true of wisdom teeth that cause problems, because not all of them need to be removed. About 38% of  people’s wisdom teeth do not form and therefore have no need to be removed. The other 62% have their wisdom teeth come in with or without problems.

Wisdom teeth used to be essential to humans everyday life before modern ages. Before the invention of cooking humans ate raw meats and other hard foods. This made it crucial to have another pair of molars to make chewing and sub sequentially digestion easier on the primitive man. The smaller the food gets after chewing makes it easier for the food to be digested.

As time went by and man became more advanced the need for this extra set of molars decreased. The food being eaten was not as tough and could be chewed a lot easier. Through evolution these teeth became obsolete, but were still developing in the body. At this point most people do not have enough room in their mouths for these extra teeth and they are causing problems. These problems arise from the teeth growing in different directions and putting pressure on existing teeth as well as creating crowding and spaces between other teeth. If this happens then it i recommended that the teeth be removed to alleviate these problems.



Excessive Opioid Use and Wisdom Teeth Removal


Roughly 5 million Americans have their wisdom teeth removed annually. After these extractions most patients are prescribed opioids to help ease the pain. Studies have shown that young adults are more likely to refill these prescriptions after pain should have subsided from the extractions. If patients filled the first prescription they were more likely to get multiple refills later when compared to patients who did not fill the first prescription. Hydrocodone was the highest prescribed opioid with oxycodone as a close second.

Some dentists feel as though prescribing opioids after wisdom tooth extraction is excessive and unnecessary. Instead they think prescribing NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are just as effective if not better at relieving pain. Other ways to relieve extraction pain are using an ice pack in the affected area or rinsing with warm salt water for several minutes. The ice pack helps numb the area thus reducing pain, and warm salt water aids in reducing bacteria in the mouth which can cause pain.