Wisdom Teeth – What You Need to Know

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the very last teeth that develop in the human mouth. By the time you are twelve, you have gained a full set of adult teeth including two back molars on each jaw. Between the ages of 17 and 25, many adults gain a “third molar” that pops up behind the twelve-year molars. Some people get one wisdom tooth, all four, or none at all. While the rest of your teeth are necessary to chew food properly, no one actually needs their wisdom teeth. In fact, the appearance of wisdom teeth is more often than not, a troublesome experience.

Determining the Position of Wisdom Teeth

You may want to ask your dentist for an X-ray regarding the position of your wisdom teeth. Dentists use X-ray technology to see exactly where your wisdom teeth are (if any) and the likelihood that they will cause you problems down the line. Once the position and alignment of your third molars are determined, your dentist may recommend that your X-ray images be sent off to a dental surgeon for evaluation. It is not uncommon for oral surgeons to recommend the removal of wisdom teeth before they have even reached the gum surface. This is a sort of preemptive strike against tooth pain and damage in the future. It is also easier to remove the underdeveloped wisdom teeth of younger patients. The younger you are, the less healing and recovery time you are likely to experience.

Why Remove Wisdom Teeth?

It will not be hard to tell when you are getting your wisdom teeth. This process can range from uncomfortable to extremely painful. Most of the time, getting you wisdom teeth is painful because they are becoming impacted. This means that there is simply not enough room in your mouth and your wisdom tooth cannot completely break through the gum line. The tooth continues to push against your older molars causing terrible pain and even infection.

If a wisdom tooth is left in your mouth for too long, there is a serious risk of damaging healthy teeth. There is an increased risk of cavities, breakage, and infection. In some extreme cases, a fluid filled cyst can form at the site of the untreated wisdom tooth. These cysts can hollow out the jaw and cause serious nerve damage. This is why it is important for most people to have their wisdom teeth removed.

What if it’s Not Painful?

In rare cases, a wisdom tooth will appear with little to no pain or problems to their neighboring teeth. However, it is still very important for you to be evaluated by a dentist. Wisdom teeth are more prone to cavities and damage due to the position they hold in your mouth. It is ideal to ask your dentist about the risk your wisdom tooth may cause in the future.

Lucky patients find that their wisdom teeth are healthy, functional, and do not cause any issues to their adjacent teeth. If this is the case, there is no reason for them to be removed. It is better safe than sorry when it comes to your third molars. Damage caused by wisdom teeth can be very painful as well as costly. The bottom line is, you should always check with your dentist if you feel a wisdom tooth coming in. Better yet, make an appointment BEFORE the possible pain sets in.

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