I think laughter does a body good. We do a lot of it in our Encino dental office. We provide the utmost in cosmetic and general dentistry care, but we think friendliness and humor complement the professionalism. So, here’s a joke that’s made the rounds for years. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.
One day, a woman walked into a dental office and asked how much it would cost to extract wisdom teeth.
“A bag of gold,” the dentist replied.
“That’s ridiculous,” the woman said. “Isn’t there a cheaper way?”
“Well,” the dentist said, “if you don’t use an anesthetic, I will charge you only half a bag of gold.”
“That’s still too expensive,” the woman huffed.
“OK,” responded the dentist. “If we forgo the anesthesia and simply pull the teeth with pliers, I can knock the price to a quarter pound of gold.”
“No-o-o,” groaned the woman. “It’s still too much.”
“Well,” said the dentist, scratching his head, “I could find a dental student to do it for 15 bucks.”
“Awesome!” said the woman. “Book my husband for next Friday.”
This joke is light-hearted, but it brings up a serious topic. Wisdom teeth.
Wisdom Teeth: A Third Set of Molars
Wisdom teeth are third molars that start to form around your 10th birthday. They are the last set of teeth to come in – usually making their debut between 17 and 25 years of age. Because this is the age when most young people are gaining knowledge at a rapid pace, these extra molars have been dubbed “wisdom teeth.” A misnomer? Perhaps, but that’s a topic for another time!
Evolutionary biologists classify these third molars as vestigial organs, kind of like the appendix. Perhaps they were useful in grinding raw food and roughage at one time, but in this modern day and age, they tend to be more trouble than they are worth and are the source of many dental problems.
Wisdom teeth typically cause grief when they begin to emerge from the gums, because our jaws are too small to accommodate extra teeth. Some lucky souls have no problems or very mild symptoms. Others get hit with severe – even life-threatening – complications when impacted wisdom teeth cause an avalanche of side effects.
Good oral hygiene is hard to maintain when erupting wisdom teeth cause pain in the back regions of your mouth. People tend to slack off on the brushing to avoid discomfort. Germs and bits of food accumulate under the gums, compounding the problem. Bad breath and gingivitis ensue as infection spreads. Opening your mouth and chewing becomes a chore too, so nutrition may suffer. It’s a vicious cycle.
Here at FocusedCareDental.com, we’ve compiled a list of problems that can occur with troublesome wisdom teeth. If you experience any of these, seek medical treatment. I’d be happy to take a look and make an assessment. I promise that I won’t charge a bag of gold or use tool shed pliers!
Signs of Erupting or Impacted Wisdom Teeth
- Bad breath
- Pain and infection
- Fever and lethargy
- Redness and bleeding gums
- Ear aches and headaches
- Swelling of gums and jawline
- Tooth decay and loss of bone
- A funny taste in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing and painful swallowing
- Overcrowding of neighboring teeth
These symptoms should never be ignored. In severe cases infection can spread, putting oral health and even one’s life in danger.
Wisdom Teeth and Braces
Orthodontic treatment also can fail if wisdom teeth are not considered. If you plan to go through the expense of getting braces, be sure you discuss your wisdom teeth and jaw size with your dentist/orthodontist. Complications can be avoided if wisdom teeth are removed before roots get too long or teeth tilt at crazy angles and cause overcrowding.
With medical advances, dentists and oral surgeons are able to remove third molars with much less pain, trauma and down time than when our forefathers went to a blacksmith to get teeth pulled. Now, oral sedation dentistry is offered for peace of mind, and medications are prescribed to manage pain. Size, shape, root length and physical orientation affect the ease with which wisdom teeth are removed. Some cases are complex, and some are easy. Healing time varies, but ice-packs, antibiotics and specific post-op guidelines speed recovery.
Best regards, AM
Tip of the Day: Follow post-operative guidelines religiously after wisdom tooth extraction. (Remember no straws, no spitting and only soft food.) Plan to take a few days off to rest and promote healing. This is no time to play volleyball or go jogging. You don’t want to disturb healthy clotting, break stitches or cause extra swelling. You’ll have gauze in your mouth anyway, so it’s best to stay home, nap and watch a few movies.