- April 1, 2018
This isn’t an April Fool’s joke.
You should care about your wisdom teeth and your teen’s wisdom teeth.
Statistically, most people are better off having these teeth extracted. Wisdom teeth are considered a vestigial body part. Like other vestigial parts, they no longer serve a necessary function — but they can cause some serious problems!
Why Do We Have These Teeth?
From an anatomical standpoint, wisdom teeth would be your third set of molars if you don’t have them removed. Molars are the larger, flatter teeth on the back of each side of your mouth.
They help you grind and chew food into smaller pieces that are easier to digest.
Many scientists believe these extra molars helped our ancient relatives chew up the raw, whole foods that made up their diet. Based on archeological finds, we know that our ancestors’ jaws were, on average, larger than our jaws today. In other words, they had room for these extra molars to erupt.
Wisdom teeth have the potential to cause so many problems because our jaws are (on average) too small for them to fit. That often prevents these teeth from coming in correctly.
This is why if we notice the potential for problems, we recommend removing them before those problems can occur.
How Bad Can It Get, Really?
Trust us when we say, you don’t want to experience the problems that impacted wisdom teeth can create.
An impacted tooth is one that cannot fully erupt because there is not enough space for it to emerge. Teeth can be fully impacted (meaning they remain below the gumline) or partially impacted (meaning they break the surface of the gums). Regardless of how teeth are impacted, they can cause similar problems.
Pain is one of the problems we want you to avoid. Depending on the angle of the tooth, you could experience swelling or a stiff jaw, neither of which is pleasant.
Similarly, wisdom teeth can increase your risk for gum disease. These teeth can create spaces for bacteria to hide from a toothbrush and floss. That’s the perfect scenario for bacteria to multiply and cause gum infections.
Likewise, these bacteria can form plaque, which can increase your risk of tooth decay and related problems, such as tooth infections.
As a reaction to these troublesome teeth, cysts can form in your mouth. These sacs of fluid may be painful, and they can damage your jawbones.
Last, but certainly not least, your wisdom teeth can push into nearby teeth. This can change the alignment of your teeth and the appearance of your smile. (Imagine spending years wearing braces to straighten your smile only to have wisdom teeth ruin it again.)
The Best Time to Remove Your Wisdom Teeth
Ideally, you would remove your wisdom teeth long before any of the problems we mentioned could develop.
Most people’s wisdom teeth develop in their late teens or early 20s. By making regular dental visits and getting routine X-rays, we can monitor those changes.
If we notice the potential for a problem, we would prefer to extract your teeth before the roots have fully developed. This makes them easier to remove.
We put an emphasis on preventive care. This is just an extension of that. We don’t want you to risk years of pain and oral infections for teeth that provide no real benefits for you.
Make an Appointment
It’s important to keep making regular appointments if someone in your family is near the age when wisdom teeth may emerge. Our team will be happy to help. To make an appointment at our Shorewood, IL office, contact us online or call 815-768-1615 today!