What you need to know about wisdom teeth is that most adults have had their wisdom teeth removed. This is common, considering what wisdom teeth are and some of the associated risks they may pose. Many people have them removed as teenagers for valid reasons. It's a good idea to become familiar with wisdom teeth, so that you will be better equipped to deal with them if and when the time comes.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also referred to as your third molars, are the larger teeth at the very back of the mouth. They are the last teeth to come in. While some people have no problems when their wisdom teeth erupt, these teeth can and do cause problems for others.
Why People Have Wisdom Teeth Removed
According to the National Institutes of Health, wisdom teeth are the most common teeth to become impacted. When a tooth is impacted, it means that the tooth has failed to erupt through the surface of the gum or that only a portion of it has erupted. Some of the problems associated with erupting or impacted wisdom teeth include:
- Caries (Cavities). An impacted third molar leads to a high probability of creating cavities, both in that tooth and in the one next to it, as well. This is because they often trap plaque in the area, which is difficult to reach and to clean.
- Cysts. When wisdom teeth are impacted, they can cause cysts and tumors to form around the area. This can affect the bone, and even damage the jaw, leading to additional complications such as infections and abscesses.
- Misalignment. The emerging wisdom teeth may not be coming in straight; even if they are, they often push the other teeth out of alignment.
- Discomfort. Emerging or impacted wisdom teeth can cause headaches to toothaches, pain, swelling, and general discomfort.
Wisdom teeth are associated with an increased risk of periodontal disease, or the inflammation of the gums, which can lead to tooth loss, abscesses, infections and tooth shifting.
When to Remove Wisdom Teeth
The best time to have your third molars removed really depends on the tooth’s development. As an Orthodontic Specialist, I generally recommend that my patients have their wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 17 – 21 years of age. In females, it can be at a younger age, as they tend to mature physically earlier than males do.
Removing your third molars by the age of 21 will allow you to take advantage of a shorter healing and recovery time.