All About Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third and usually final set of molar teeth that most people get when they are age 14 and above – often in their late teens and early twenties. A small percentage of people, however, never get their wisdom teeth, and an even smaller percentage get extra wisdom teeth, called supernumerary teeth.

Wisdom teeth are the teeth farthest back in the mouth, and they are problematic because about 70% of the population do not have adequate room for them to erupt. And because of this, they produce congestion as well as irritation, inflammation and possible infection in the back of the mouth, both the upper and lower areas.

Is Removal Always Necessary?

This is not to say, however, that everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed. About 30% of the population will not need their removal if they keep their teeth clean and healthy. It’s easily determined by a dentist as early as the age of 14 if wisdom tooth extraction will be required.

An impacted wisdom tooth is one that has not emerged into its expected position. It is a tooth that is jammed in place, either against an adjacent front tooth, or because of the way it is lying in the bone, in a direction that will not permit eruption.

Reasons for impacted teeth vary but usually the cause is because there simply is not enough room in the individual’s mouth, or not enough jawbone space behind their second molar. Some people hypothesize that centuries ago mankind had a harder diet, making us chew more, which could have stimulated more growth in the jawbone.

Types of Impaction

You can have a bony impaction, a horizontal impaction, a diagonal impaction, or a soft tissue impaction, which primarily is at the corner of the back of the mouth. That is where there is an impingement of soft tissue where the tooth is almost covered by it and cannot erupt due to lack of space.

It’s important to have your wisdom teeth removed if the dentist deems it necessary to keep the rest of your teeth as straight as possible, among other reasons. If you or your child has wisdom teeth which you think may be a problem, see your dentist right away. It’s also a good idea to ask your dentist about wisdom teeth at your next regular dental check-up, even if you are unaware of their existence. They might be impacted and cause problems in future.

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