If wisdom teeth are so wise, why do most people have theirs removed? There are plenty of good reasons to say goodbye to wisdom teeth, but one of the biggest reasons wisdom teeth removal is recommended is because these molars can interfere with good oral health. Wisdom teeth can knock the rest of your smile out of alignment, plus they are difficult to keep clean and are more susceptible to decay. But that’s not all you need to know.
Fact 1: We don’t need wisdom teeth.
Also known as third molars, wisdom teeth may sound significant and important, but they are not essential to good oral health or needed for chewing.
Some research has suggested that wisdom teeth are left over from a time in history when early humans lived on raw meats and roots and needed serious tearing and crushing capabilities to eat. This left people with larger jaws and, therefore, room for more teeth. As our diets began to change, the human body evolved too, eliminating the need for four additional molars.
What’s also changed from history is that oral health care is always a priority, whether you have a problem with wisdom teeth or not. So, those ancient people may have had good use for extra teeth, but they could probably have used a solid dental cleaning and checkup, too.
Fact 2: Some people don’t have wisdom teeth.
You read that right. Some people are simply not born with any wisdom teeth in their jaw. That means no disrupted tooth alignment. No impacted molars. No typical wisdom teeth problems.
Some people are born with just one wisdom tooth, or two, or maybe three. These atypical eruptions will affect the treatment necessary to deal with wisdom teeth. Fewer third molars means intervention may not be needed at all to prevent other oral health problems or the unwanted movement of the rest of your teeth.
Fact 3: Wisdom teeth don’t always erupt.
Some people have wisdom teeth but they never erupt from the gums. This can be good and this can be bad. If wisdom teeth are happy to stay below the surface and remain dormant, that’s great. What often happens, however, is that wisdom teeth don’t have enough space to grow.
If wisdom teeth are impacted – which means they are enclosed in the soft tissue of the mouth or in the jawbone – they may be fully under the surface or may partially break through the gum. A partial breakthrough creates an opportunity for bacteria to find its way in, potentially leading to infection, pain, swelling, and jaw stiffness.
Fact 4: Not all wisdom teeth are problematic.
Wisdom teeth typically become an issue in the late teens or early twenties. People who have healthy, properly aligned wisdom teeth won’t encounter any issues.
More often, however, these “extra” teeth are misaligned and are so problematic they require removal. Misaligned wisdom teeth can be angled toward or away from the second molars, inward or outward. Poor alignment creates big problems, like crowding and damaging adjacent teeth, as well as hurting the jawbone or nerves.
Wisdom teeth that are not addressed sooner rather than later can obliterate the work that a round of braces or Invisalign has done for teeth. Your Johns Creek dentist will evaluate your entire mouth before any orthodontia is undertaken to see where your wisdom teeth are located and if they could pose any threats to an aligned smile.
Get the Scoop on Your Own Wisdom Teeth
If you – or your teeth – haven’t had wisdom teeth removed or evaluated, it’s a good idea to talk to your Johns Creek dentist about these third molars. Wisdom teeth removal is usually an in-office oral surgery that can be done efficiently and under sedation.
Be wise: Find out what’s going on with your mouth, or bring in your tween or teen for dental x-rays and an orthodontic evaluation at our Johns Creek family dentistry practice. Contact us to schedule your appointment and discuss wisdom teeth removal.