No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

What to Know About Wisdom Teeth

by Jeremiah Barnett

For the most part, you get all your permanent teeth before you are even an adult. However, as children turn into adults, their third molars or wisdom teeth start to erupt. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth are notorious for causing problems. If you would like to know more, keep reading.

Why Do You Need Wisdom Teeth?

Molars are important for grinding up food before you swallow. This makes foods easier to digest. In the past, the diet of human ancestors consisted of foods that needed more grinding, such as raw meats and leafy greens. The third molar helped improve mastication, so humans could digest those raw foods.

Today, however, you don't really need your wisdom teeth thanks to advancements like cooking. In fact, most human bodies have less space in the mouth than human ancestors, so there isn't always enough room in the mouth for all teeth, including the wisdom teeth. Despite that, nearly every human still grows a set of third molars.

What Are Common Complications of Wisdom Teeth?

Because of the space problem, wisdom teeth can't usually grow properly. Many third molars grow at an angle, and some never fully erupt through the skin. Part of the crown may be fully under the gumline. For some people, only the wisdom teeth are affected, but your existing teeth can be affected too. If there isn't' enough space, wisdom teeth may push against healthy teeth, leading to cracks, inflammation, infection, and/or a cyst.

However, even if none of the healthy teeth are affected, wisdom teeth that haven't fully erupted are at a high risk of developing an infection. In addition, overcrowding and awkward angles can make it hard to floss and brush the back teeth. This increases the risk of cavities to wisdom teeth and the surrounding healthy teeth.

Can Wisdom Teeth Be Fixed?

Many of the complications associated with wisdom teeth can't be fixed because the mouth is too small. An unerupted tooth can't be forced through the gumline, and braces won't help straighten sideways teeth, especially if there is no extra space. For this reason, most wisdom teeth are removed as soon as possible.

If your wisdom teeth are starting to erupt, it's time to visit the dentist. Don't let a partially erupted tooth become a painful infection or dangerous cyst. If you would like to know more about what's involved in wisdom teeth extraction surgery, make an appointment through a local dental clinic.