Wisdom Teeth 101 - South Peek Dental Care | Katy, TX Dentist
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Wisdom Teeth 101

Between the ages of 17 to 21, many people start to notice a third set of molars starting to come in. These third molars received the nickname “wisdom teeth” because they erupt much later than the other permanent teeth. Be wise and learn more about how wisdom teeth affect your oral health and orthodontic treatment.

Approximately 65% of the population has at least one wisdom tooth. Many people have their wisdom teeth removed as a precautionary measure. When there is not enough space in the mouth for these extra molars or they erupt incorrectly, they can cause a variety of problems. However, if wisdom teeth are in their ideal position and there is enough space in the mouth to accommodate them, it is possible for them to erupt with no issues. They can even be beneficial to the patient by providing a larger chewing surface!

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

You may be familiar with the concept of impacted wisdom teeth. This condition refers to when the molars are trapped in the jaw or under the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth need to be removed. It is not uncommon for impacted wisdom teeth to not cause any symptoms, but left untreated they can lead to infections, oral pain, tooth decay, and cysts.

Common Reasons Patients May Need Their Wisdom Teeth Removed

Each patient is different, but wisdom teeth may need to be extracted if there are certain changes in the patient’s oral health, such as:

  • Tooth decay
  • Infection
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Crowding
  • Cysts
  • Difficulties flossing between wisdom teeth and second molars

Orthodontic Treatment

Your orthodontic provider may also recommend extracting wisdom teeth if the patient’s teeth are crowded. However, past orthodontic patients who have not had their wisdom teeth removed need to stay up on their dental exams to monitor their wisdom teeth. Once the teeth are already straight, most patients don’t have enough room in their mouth for their wisdom teeth to erupt without disrupting the surrounding teeth. When the wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to erupt properly, they can cause the surrounding teeth to crowd and potentially reverse your orthodontic treatment.

Erupted Wisdom Teeth

Countless individuals have erupted wisdom teeth and never experience any issues. Since wisdom teeth are in the very back of the mouth, they can be harder to take care of than other teeth. Patients with wisdom teeth need to pay extra close attention to these back molars when brushing and flossing. It is also important to stay up on annual dental exams to ensure the teeth are staying healthy and not causing any issues.

Getting your wisdom teeth removed is nothing to be afraid of! Wisdom teeth extractions are routine procedures and sedation methods can typically be used during the procedure to ensure the patient stays comfortable. If you are starting to feel your wisdom teeth erupt, let your dentist know at your next exam. If they are starting to cause severe pain, contact your dentist as soon as possible to ensure your smile stays healthy!