Third molars, or wisdom teeth as they are commonly called, are the last of our 32 teeth to develop. People develop four wisdom teeth, although it is possible to develop more or less than four. They come in at the very back of the mouth, usually between the ages of 17 and 21.
Pain/pressure– Commonly felt at the back of the mouth when they begin to erupt.
Foul odor– If not able to clean the area properly, bacteria and food can get trapped around the teeth and gums and give off a bad smell and taste.
Bleeding and swelling– These are common signs of inflammation, usually due to an accumulation of bacteria and food debris.
In modern times, they may not be needed for chewing and breaking down food, especially if we have an otherwise full set of healthy teeth. They were useful for our ancestors due to their coarse diet and early tooth loss.
No, if there is enough room for them to erupt without issue into the mouth, they do not need to be extracted. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most people.
Impaction– When there is not enough room for them to erupt regularly, they can become impacted. Impacted teeth can be partially above the gums, or impacted in the jawbone beneath the gums. Impacted teeth can be painful and lead to infection. Partially erupted teeth can be challenging to keep clean and are more prone to gum inflammation and decay.
Risk to other teeth– Wisdom teeth may be angled towards the molars ahead of them, putting these teeth at risk of damage or decay. Our second molars are an essential part of our dentition, and the removal of the wisdom teeth may be necessary to protect them from harm.
Dental cysts– In some rare cases, cysts may form around impacted wisdom teeth and can destroy the bone and other teeth.
For optimal healing and recovery, it is best to have them removed as a teen or young adult. As our age increases so too does the risk of complications and healing time. Closely following the after-care instructions for tooth extraction will reduce the risk of complications at any age.
If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort from your wisdom teeth, call us today! If left untreated, serious dental infections could develop.