Dr. Stephan Ziegler, head dentist and founder of the KU64 dental practice in Berlin, provides answers.
When do you think wisdom teeth have to be pulled and why? When can they be preserved?
“Nowadays, wisdom teeth no longer have to be removed across the board. The decision for or against surgery depends on several factors. If the so-called figure eight does not break through and remains in the jaw without any consequences for the rest of the teeth, no distance is required. If an upcoming breakthrough can be seen on the X-ray image, we first assess the available space and the direction of growth. Because: With small jaws or obliquely growing wisdom teeth, there is a risk that the stragglers exert pressure on the adjacent molars and shift the entire row of teeth. In these cases it is advisable to remove them. If the conditions are right, there is nothing to be said against the breakthrough. However, this should be done under regular medical supervision.
Because in some cases only a part of the wisdom tooth comes to the surface and it does not erupt completely. This creates slightly hood-shaped gum pockets, in which an unnoticed bacterial settlement quickly occurs. Painful, permanent foci of inflammation are the result. As a rule of thumb, if the figure eight does not completely break through within one to two years, dentists should remove it surgically. Wisdom tooth operations are usually performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. In the case of particularly anxious patients, the procedure can also be carried out under general anesthesia. "
Do wisdom teeth have a specific purpose? Which?
“Wisdom teeth are remnants from the early history of mankind, but they no longer have an essential function today. Break through without complications and fit well into the existing tooth chain, but they can still serve us. For example, as a replacement tooth if a molar tooth is lost, or as a supporting pillar for dentures that may be necessary, such as bridges. ”
Is it true that the jaw has become narrower in the course of evolution?
“Evolution is a progressive process in which human forms adapt to changing functions. With food getting smaller and softer, today's society no longer has to chew as much as it used to. As a result, the jaw lacks the necessary growth stimuli in the long term and it gradually shrinks. Compared to our Stone Age ancestors, it has a much smaller shape today and in many cases offers too little space for genetically designed teeth. "
Is there any specific information on how many Germans live without their wisdom teeth?
“Over a million surgical wisdom tooth removals take place in Germany every year. This makes this procedure one of the most common outpatient operations in dentistry in Germany. ”