With age comes wisdom. Specifically, wisdom teeth.

Throughout our lifetimes, our mouths will go through many changes. One major change is the eruption of the wisdom teeth.  For most people this will occur around 17-21 years of age (this is just an average, it is sometimes earlier and sometimes later). Wisdom teeth are  also known as third molars, the common name, "wisdom teeth" is because they appear so late much later than our other teeth. When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when your wisdom teeth appear, but if you have pain, see us immediately.

Room to Grow?

Wisdom teeth can cause issues if there isn’t enough space for them to surface or they come through in the wrong position. Impacted wisdom teeth are when the teeth cannot surface because they are trapped in the bone or gums.

As your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums, well will be monitoring you at your routine exams for the following: 

  • Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position can allow food to become a food trap. This can give cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.
  • Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly, can make brushing and flossing the teeth in front of them difficult.
  • If wisdom teeth only partially erupt, they can create pockets where infections can occur, causing bad infections.
  • Wisdom teeth that don’t have  enough room to come through can cause your other teeth to be crowded.
  • A wisdom tooth that is impacted can form a cyst on or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

Why You Might Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth removal may be required when there are certain changes in the mouth, such as: 

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)
  • Your dentist may also recommend removal of wisdom teeth as part of treatment for braces or other dental care.

X-rays and routine exams are critical for helping to identify problems early and preventing an problems.   

Keeping Your Wisdom Teeth?

For some patients keeping your wisdom teeth is completely fine! However, if they ever compromise your other teeth they should be extracted. When patients decide to keep their wisdom teeth we often find that they become a problem later in life. Often extracting teeth on older patients, with more complicated medical histories can be a challenge. When appropriate, we encourage patents to have their wisdom teeth removed when they are healthy to minimize any complications.