Wisdom teeth, or third molars, come in between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life that has been called the “Age of Wisdom.” They are the last teeth to develop and erupt in the mouth. In most cases, dentists recommend that these teeth should be removed. Here are the main reasons why:
1. Impacted wisdom teeth may damage other teeth.
When a tooth is unable to fully enter the mouth, it is said to be “impacted.” Impacted teeth can remain completely sideways beneath the gumline, or they simply are unable to break through the gums because there is no room. Nine out of ten people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. If impacted wisdom teeth are not removed, they may cause infection or damage to the other teeth.
2. Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean.
A wisdom tooth that is only partially erupted often has portions of the tooth covered by flaps of gum tissue. This, along with the location so far back in the mouth, can make wisdom teeth difficult to clean. Bacteria and plaque can collect in the gums, which can cause cavities that are difficult to treat. Infections can also develop that can lead to gum disease. Teeth that are next to the wisdom teeth are also more prone to developing gum problems because the wisdom teeth can get in the way of cleaning them. In rare cases, cysts can develop, which can cause permanent damage to bone, teeth, and nerves.
When should I keep my wisdom teeth?
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons strongly recommends that third molars be evaluated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon by the time a patient is a young adult. The surgeon can assess the presence of third molars and their disease status and can suggest removal or management options. Regular dental visits that involve x-rays are especially important in the later teen years as the teeth finish developing within the gums.
Wisdom teeth may not need to be removed if they are:
–Fully erupted (grown in completely)
–Positioned correctly and bite properly with the opposite tooth
–Able to be cleaned as part of daily hygiene practices
If wisdom teeth are not removed, they will require regular professional cleaning, annual check-ups, and periodic radiographs to monitor any changes.
At a dental checkup with Dr. Kevin B. Sands, the health of your gums and teeth will be evaluated and x-rays may be taken. If necessary, Dr. Sands will refer you to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon for further assessment for your wisdom teeth. Please schedule your dental appointment with Dr. Sands by calling (310) 273-0111 or filling out our online contact form today.