Wisdom teeth, also known as “teeth of wisdom” in the 17th century, typically appear between the ages of 17 and 25 when a person reaches adulthood. Linguists believe that the third molar was given this name because people are “wiser” at this time than when their other teeth erupted. When wisdom teeth come through correctly, they can be helpful chewing tools. However, the appearance of wisdom teeth may activate an abundance of issues, which is why they often require removal.
Wisdom tooth removal is a common oral surgery. In fact, approximately 85% of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted during their lifetime. Factors like cleaning accessibility, bite alignment and jaw pain will all be assessed, and if none are a problem, your wisdom teeth may not need to be removed!
At Heritage Lake Dental, we will monitor your wisdom teeth as they move through your gums. If wisdom teeth end up only partially surfacing, bacteria can enter through the gums leading to infection, pain and swelling in the jaw. There often isn’t enough space for wisdom teeth to fully surface, but when they do, they frequently come through in the wrong position (not so wise after all). This gives cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow as it is often difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
Tooth crowding may also be a consideration if you are receiving orthodontic care with braces. To help correct bite irregularities and make room for crowded teeth, wisdom teeth are often removed. If your dentist finds that your wisdom teeth are completely impacted, that means they are trapped in your jaw or under your gums. This can lead to painful cysts and damage to the roots of nearby teeth.
Wisdom teeth are not essential for oral health, which is why most dentists recommend removal before they have fully developed. However, every mouth is unique. Regular x-rays will allow your dentist to monitor changes in your mouth. Together, we can discuss the best course of treatment for your wisdom teeth.