Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are often the source of many dental problems. They are the last set of teeth to develop in the human mouth and can cause various issues, from crowding and misalignment of other teeth to infections and cysts.
Wisdom teeth removal is necessary for many people to maintain good oral health. But why do we even have wisdom teeth in the first place? Are they really necessary? Or are they just a relic of our ancestors that have outlived their usefulness?
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to develop in the human mouth. They typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 21 and are located at the back of the mouth, behind the second molars.
Wisdom teeth are the evolutionary remnant of our ancestors, who had larger jaws to accommodate more teeth. But as human jaws have evolved to be smaller, there’s often not enough room for these teeth to fully emerge and develop properly.
Wisdom teeth can develop in different ways, such as:
- Erupted: fully grown and visible in the mouth
- Partially erupted: grown out of the gum but not fully visible
- Impacted: unable to grow out of the gum because there isn't enough space
- Soft tissue impaction: gum tissue covers the tooth
- Bone impaction: the tooth is covered by the jawbone
The position and development of wisdom teeth can vary significantly from person to person. Some people may have all four wisdom teeth fully grown, while others may have none.
Reasons to Remove Wisdom Teeth
Crowding and Misalignment
Wisdom teeth can cause crowding and misaligning of other teeth in the mouth. As the wisdom teeth push through the gums, they can go against the other teeth, causing them to shift out of place.
This can lead to a variety of dental problems, including bite issues, difficulty cleaning the teeth, and an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Crowding can cause the front teeth to overlap, making it hard to clean and brush them properly.
Misalignment can also make it difficult to chew correctly and cause headaches, jaw pain and other problems.
Another reason wisdom teeth may need to be removed is that they can become impacted, meaning they do not fully emerge from the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain and swelling and lead to infection.
The pressure of the tooth trying to emerge can cause the gum to become inflamed and infected; this can be very painful and can lead to a fever or difficulty opening the mouth. Impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the development of cysts, which can cause severe damage to the jawbone and surrounding teeth.
Additionally, wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. The back of the mouth is already difficult to reach and clean, and the added presence of wisdom teeth can make it even more challenging.
Pre-Existing Dental Issues
If you already have pre-existing dental issues such as overbite, underbite, or crowded teeth, the presence of wisdom teeth can further complicate the problem and make it harder to treat.
In these cases, the removal of wisdom teeth can be beneficial to alleviate the symptoms and allow for proper treatment of pre-existing dental issues.
When Don’t You Need to Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth removal is not always necessary. Here are a few situations when it may not be recommended to remove wisdom teeth:
- Fully erupted teeth: If the wisdom teeth are fully erupted and are not causing any problems, such as pain, infection, or shifting of other teeth, there may be no need to remove them. They can be kept and maintained just like any other teeth.
- No crowding or impacted teeth: If the wisdom teeth are not causing any crowding or impaction of the other teeth, there may be no need to remove them. A dentist can evaluate this with X-ray imaging.
- Good oral hygiene: If a person maintains good oral hygiene and regularly visits the dentist for check-ups, the wisdom teeth may not need to be removed. Regular cleaning and monitoring can help prevent potential problems from arising.
Get an Oral Checkup with Skypointe Dental
Wisdom teeth can be a source of many dental problems, and their removal is often necessary to maintain good oral health. It's essential to be aware of the potential issues wisdom teeth can cause and consult with a dental professional if you have any concerns.Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns about your wisdom teeth or overall oral health.