Wisdom teeth: Is it wise to remove them?
In Dutch, they are called verstandskiezen or wijsheidstanden, in English, wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are so called because they normally break through as soon as you are mature (and sensible): between the age of 18 and 24. But it is wise to extract your wisdom teeth? Holistic dentist Maartje Damen-Brands from Dental Practice De Liefde elaborates.
What is the function of wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth have the same function as the other molars: to grind food well and mix it with saliva. This ensures a good start to the digestion process further down the digestive tract.
Although wisdom teeth have a function, they do not break through for everyone. There are more and more people whose wisdom teeth have not been developed. This has to do with evolution. Our jaws have also become narrower over the centuries, and as a result, some wisdom teeth have insufficient space to break through.
Should wisdom teeth - if you do have them - always be extracted?
It is different for each person whether a wisdom tooth has to be pulled out or not. The current view is that it is not sensible to remove wisdom teeth in a preventive way. Sometimes this was done because people thought for a long time that newly developing wisdom teeth could cause a relapse after an orthodontic treatment. However, this has not been scientifically proven to date. A relapse after an orthodontic treatment has to do with too little space in the jaw.
What is the best age to extract the wisdom teeth?
The best age at which to extract a wisdom tooth varies per person. Even after your thirties, your wisdom teeth can still cause problems. From a holistic perspective, you do not want to pull out a wisdom tooth before you are 21 years old. Only from 21 onwards are you fully mature, with the energy to recover from this treatment.
When do you decide as a holistic dentist to extract wisdom teeth?
As a holistic dentist, I do not see a set of teeth as a stand-alone thing. Your teeth are inextricably linked to the rest of the body. What’s most important to me is to keep your wisdom teeth from becoming inflamed due to the area not being kept clean properly. Inflammation in your mouth can cause your whole body to become imbalanced.
According to Chinese medicine, all teeth are connected to meridians that run throughout your body. Your wisdom teeth are connected via these meridians to your (small) intestine and your immune system. An inflamed wisdom tooth can potentially harm your immune system.
What would you say to people who are getting their wisdom teeth extracted at a holistic dentist?
A few days before the tooth is extracted, start taking homoeopathic Traumeel tablets or drops. These can be obtained from the pharmacy or chemist. After the treatment, rinse your mouth with water that has been boiled and salted. That should be sufficient for it to heal. And of course, do NOT smoke, because that can cause a lot of pain.
Maartje Damen-Brands works at Amsterdam-based Dental Practice De Liefde. As a biological dentist, she treats clients from a holistic perspective. This means that Maartje sees a set of teeth as part of a larger whole (your body) and not as a self-contained thing.