About 100 million years ago, early man probably relied on a third set of molars for survival, and their jaws easily accommodated these teeth. Today, the human jaw has shrunk in size and wisdom teeth are having trouble finding space when they erupt, causing a number of different problems.
If you’re wondering whether you should have your child’s or your wisdom teeth removed, the team of dental practitioners at Willow Glen Dental Specialists pulled together the following points to consider.
Why wisdom teeth are becoming problematic
The primary reason why wisdom teeth are becoming problematic is that while modern humans have smaller jaws that can easily accommodate 28 teeth, we struggle with fitting in 32 teeth.
Many believe that wisdom teeth are obsolete and that evolution will catch up with this fact and eventually eliminate wisdom teeth from our mouths. Already, estimates show that between 5% and 37% of people are missing one or more of their wisdom teeth.
In the meantime, however, many people are facing oral health issues because of these third molars.
Problems associated with wisdom teeth
In general, there are several situations in which removing wisdom teeth is called for, including:
When we say your wisdom tooth is impacted, it means that the tooth didn’t erupt properly (came in at an angle), only erupted partially, or didn’t erupt at all.
Moving existing teeth
Another problem is that wisdom teeth erupt much later than your other teeth — between the ages of 17 and 25, which is why they’re referred to as wisdom teeth. These late arrivals can disrupt your existing teeth, forcing them to shift around. This can be especially problematic if you’ve already worn braces to straighten your teeth.
Increased risks for tooth decay
Another issue that crops up with wisdom teeth is that they can crowd your back teeth, making cleaning more difficult. If you’re unable to properly clean your wisdom teeth (as well as neighboring teeth), you may be more prone to tooth decay.
Another problem that can develop due to wisdom teeth are infections in the soft tissues behind the wisdom teeth. Since these back teeth can be harder to clean, bacteria can set in and lead to infections in your soft tissues and gums.
Extracting your wisdom teeth
If your wisdom teeth come in straight and true and pose no obvious problems, it’s best to leave them be.
If, on the other hand, your wisdom teeth are posing problems (or might pose problems down the road), it may be time to look into tooth extraction. Our team has extensive experience in this area, and we extract teeth as quickly and painlessly as possible. While you may experience some soreness afterward, having us remove your wisdom teeth may save you from more extensive procedures and dental issues down the road.
To figure out whether your wisdom teeth pose more of a liability than an asset, please contact our office in San Jose, California, by calling 408-478-9081, or you can book an appointment with us online.