Nearly all of us develop wisdom teeth and wish we didn’t. Most of us have them on each side of our mouth, upper and lower. Strictly speaking, they are our third set of molars. In fact, they are visitors from a previous life that have outlived their welcome and usefulness.
Our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to accommodate 32 teeth, including the big chompers that we call wisdom teeth. But today, most of us have the capacity for only 28 teeth. Something has to give!
Wisdom teeth begin to form at around age nine, completely maturing by 18-21 years. By our late teens, the jawbone has nearly reached its adult size, but usually isn’t big enough to hold the wisdom teeth. As a result, these teeth can become trapped in the bone, under the gumline. The tooth’s crown may only partially break through the gum, or it may remain in the bone with misshapen or misplaced roots growing dangerously close to a sinus cavity. This is what we refer to as “impacted.”
When wisdom teeth try to erupt into the mouth when there is no room for them, they put pressure on existing already-erupted teeth, and your dentition usually begins to shift … and it can cause discomfort or pain. Sometimes wisdom teeth are positioned sideways and push on the roots of your back molars. Despite the reason these teeth become trapped in the gums, we call them “impacted.”
What may happen when wisdom teeth become impacted? You may experience…
- tooth discomfort or pain
- jaw pain
- reduced ability to open mouth
- gum disease
- bad breath
- jawbone cysts.
Predicting the future of your wisdom teeth? It’s difficult to predict when or if your wisdom teeth will give you problems, but regular x-rays can provide us with a good indication. Removal at a younger age before complications develop means easier extractions and a much faster recovery time.
How do we treat impacted wisdom teeth? No one can tell when an impacted molar will cause trouble, but trouble usually comes. The key to avoiding discomfort and complicated treatment is with x-rays so that the wisdom teeth can be removed before that happens. It’s one of the most common oral surgery treatments.
Even though they’re called “wisdom teeth,” they don’t seem to be very wise…At Summit Heights Dental, we will develop a treatment plan to help you make smart choices. Call (647) 370-1848 today! New patients are always welcome!