Some people call them “wisdom teeth.” Others refer to them as “third molars.” Regardless of what you call them, these teeth tend to make their presence known as the last to erupt during young adulthood. As part of your ongoing dental care, your dentist will examine you visually, and through X-rays, to determine if your wisdom teeth are in good condition and/or if they are in a position to come in without problems.
It’s entirely possible that you don’t have four wisdom teeth – some people have three, two, one – and even no wisdom teeth at all. Every mouth is unique and has its own set of circumstances, but there are certain conditions may dictate that wisdom teeth be removed, including:
- Pain in the area above or around wisdom teeth (if not yet erupted)
- Infection in the mouth
- Cysts and tumors
- Adjacent teeth that have been damaged
- Presence of gum disease
- Tooth decay that cannot be restored
Wisdom Teeth Are Just Like Any Other Teeth – Maintained And Evaluated Regularly
Because our mouths change over time, wisdom teeth that are not extracted should be monitored as the potential for future complications exists. Wisdom teeth that erupt are treated as any other tooth, and they should be evaluated through regular dental visits that help prevent potential dental disease and other issues while striving for the best-possible oral health.
Wisdom teeth can generally be left in place if they are:
- In good health
- Fully grown-in
- In a position that allows for proper biting
- Able to be brushed and flossed as part of your daily oral care
Quite often, wisdom teeth do not have space to grow properly and cause
problems with biting. Wisdom teeth are known for growing in at various angles from the jaw – even horizontally.
In some cases, wisdom teeth are only able to partially break through the gums. It’s also possible that they don’t appear at all and remain beneath the gums – trapped (or impacted) within the jaw. Wisdom teeth that only partially erupted can be difficult to clean and are susceptible to bacteria that can cause gum disease and infection.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth – A Common Occurrence
Roughly 90 percent of people are subjected to at least one impacted wisdom tooth in their lifetime. An impacted tooth can put a large amount of pressure on the adjacent teeth or causes cysts that can lead to bone and nerve damage if left untreated.
Impacted wisdom teeth are extracted by creating an incision and removing the tooth and bony tissues necessary. Recovery varies from patient-to-patient and can last as long as several weeks, and few complications are seen.
Regardless of whether you need to have your wisdom teeth extracted, it’s always better to make that determination sooner rather than later. Regular visits ensure the best care when it comes to wisdom teeth, but if it’s been a while since you’ve had an X-ray or a dental exam, it could be time to re-evaluate your wisdom teeth and any problems they might be causing you.