What’s the deal with wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are one of those interesting parts of our bodies that were once very useful and are now just a problem waiting to happen.
Back before oral health was a priority, wisdom teeth were welcome replacements that came in after other teeth had fallen out. These days, we’re more likely to keep all of our teeth because we know how to take care of them, so when Wisdom Teeth try to come in there’s no room for them in your mouth.
This means keeping your wisdom teeth in is very likely to cause serious problems eventually which is why most oral surgeons recommend having them removed before issues arise.
What kinds of problems can wisdom teeth cause?
Wisdom teeth are third molars that will usually come through the gums between ages 15 and 25. When wisdom teeth grow in, the rest of the teeth in our mouths are already well established, so there’s not a lot of room for them. This often causes wisdom teeth to come in crooked or not fully erupted from the gums at all, becoming impacted.
Because of these issues, wisdom teeth are prone to infection and can cause misalignment of established teeth. Many patients find that their teeth become overlapped or crooked after wisdom teeth emerge and need orthodontic treatment.
Beyond this, retaining wisdom teeth for long periods of time can lead to gum issues and gum disease. Because wisdom teeth are in the back of the mouth and are usually misaligned they are difficult to clean and keep clean. Periodontal (gum) disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and is very destructive to oral health. In addition, people that keep their wisdom teeth are more likely to suffer from headaches, toothaches, and facial pain.
When should wisdom teeth be removed?
Only your oral surgeon can say for sure when is the best time for your individual teeth to be removed but in general it’s recommended that wisdom teeth be extracted as soon as they begin to emerge.
Our jawbones are less solid in our younger years, so recovery from wisdom tooth removal is a much quicker process between ages 15-25. The older we are, the more solid our jawbones become and therefore there is an increased tendency for complications and recovery becomes a little more lengthy and difficult.