Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the third and final set of molars a person develops in their mouth. They usually erupt during the late teens or early 20s. Sometimes the teeth can be valuable and fully functional, but more often than not they are misaligned and cause more problems than benefits.
Why are they called wisdom teeth?
Since the 17th century, third molars have been referred to as wisdom teeth. It is thought that they are known as wisdom teeth because they don’t erupt until a person is a young adult and is likely to be more mature and wiser than the age when the rest of the dentition erupted.
While the rest of the teeth in the mouth serve a purpose and function, wisdom teeth are one set of teeth that is not needed. Many people face pain when the teeth are erupting and others experience pain after they have erupted. Generally, dental professionals will recommend having these teeth removed to avoid pain and maintain oral health.
What problems can wisdom teeth cause?
- Positioning: It is common for wisdom teeth to not have room to grow properly and therefore grow at various angles. The teeth can be positioned in the bone at a slant or even horizontally, in which case the teeth will not erupt through the gingiva. Wisdom teeth that are not able to erupt normally become impacted or trapped in the jaw.
- Damage to other teeth: Due to positioning as discussed above, the teeth may be growing in at an angle that is putting pressure against other teeth. If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it can make it more vulnerable to decay and infection. It can cause decay because of the inability to clean the teeth, especially when they are so far towards the back of the mouth. The pressure of the wisdom tooth can also cause crowding of the other teeth, which will require orthodontic procedures.
- Cysts: The wisdom teeth grow within a sac in the jawbone. The sac can fill with fluids and become infected within the bone, which can cause damage to the bone and nerves. A cyst rarely forms into a tumor; however the possibility is still there.
- Decay: These teeth are more likely to decay due to their positioning. Being so far in the back of the mouth can make reaching them with a toothbrush difficult. Food and bacteria can get trapped and cause decay.
You may be one of the few lucky ones whose wisdom teeth appear without problems or pain. However, it is important to remember that just because a wisdom tooth erupts and is not causing pain, it doesn’t mean you will never experience pain.
To avoid pain and oral problems, remember to visit Rochester dentist to discuss treatment options and get an expert’s opinion. It may be your wisest decision yet!