What are Wisdom Teeth?
by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 4/19/2019
The saying goes that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Well in the case of wisdom teeth, you don’t often know what you have until you’re told you need to have them removed.
What is a wisdom tooth?
Your teeth develop in three stages. First, there are the incisors, followed by canines, premolars, and molars. Then come the wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are also referred to as third molars, appearing at the back of your mouth on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. These four teeth typically begin growing as early as age seven, before appearing between the ages of 17 and 21. This is where the term “wisdom teeth” comes from, since they develop at a more mature age.
Wisdom teeth are not necessary for chewing, which is chief among the reasons that dental professionals opt to have them removed when they cause problems.
Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
Problems typically begin when there isn’t enough space for your wisdom teeth to surface, or if they have erupted but come through in the wrong position. The latter allows food to become trapped, allowing cavity-causing bacteria to grow. This can even lead to infection.
Wisdom teeth can become impacted when they only partially erupt, never fully appearing because they remain trapped within the gum tissue at the back of your mouth.
Pain and discomfort are the most common first signs that something is wrong with your wisdom teeth. If not treated, it can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even damage to other teeth.
If you have not had your wisdom teeth removed, be sure to maintain a regular schedule of dental visits to ensure they are being monitored for the development of potential problems.