Wisdom teeth are appropriately named, because they are a set of molars that don’t grow up through the gums until later in life. Usually, wisdom teeth begin to sprout when a person is between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one, although it varies—some people get them sooner, others later. Wisdom teeth can sometimes be helpful, because that extra set of molars helps us chew our food. Unfortunately, many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed, because there isn’t enough space for them in the mouth.
Problems of Wisdom Teeth
Oftentimes, wisdom teeth don’t have the room to grow. Because the molars develop so much later than other teeth, oftentimes well after a mouth has fully developed—sometimes after a dental appliance, such as braces, have already aligned the teeth—there isn’t room for these extra molars. And there’s no easy way to predict how the wisdom teeth will grow in the mouth. Sometimes wisdom teeth can become impacted (impacted means that a tooth is trapped beneath the gum line, possibly even in the jaw). If wisdom teeth grow too closely to other teeth, it’s possible that food debris can get trapped in the spaces between. Sometimes these tight spaces can be very difficult to keep clean. Sometimes they grow so close to the neighboring molar that it becomes difficult, if not practically impossible, to floss. And when the spaces between teeth are not cleaned, bacteria thrive; and, when bacteria are allowed to thrive, a mouth can suffer from conditions such as infection and gum disease. Also, when wisdom teeth grow too close to their neighboring molars, they can damage those other teeth, destroying the roots, or even damaging the bones in the jaw that support those teeth.
When wisdom teeth overcrowd, or when they do damage to a mouth, they should be removed. Your dentist at Premier Dental will be able to determine if there is a potential issue. You and your dentist can discuss possible treatments, or, when wisdom teeth don’t require immediate removal, a plan to monitor their growth. If you have any questions about wisdom teeth, your dentist at Premier Dental is ready to answer them.