At some point, all of us will probably face wisdom teeth extraction. This last set of molars typically emerges in our late teens or early twenties. In most cases, there is not enough room for them in the mouth, and they must be extracted.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the fourth set of molars, which emerge in the very back of the mouth, usually begin to emerge when you are in your late teens or early twenties. In the past, people at this age had often lost one or more of their permanent molars to decay, wear, or breakage. Thus the wisdom teeth were useful to replace these lost molars. However, modern dental technology and consistent dental hygiene has made it less likely that we will lose our molars.
In some cases, however, people do have enough room in the jaw. In these cases the wisdom teeth may be left alone. Sometimes, earlier permanent teeth are lost or for some reason do not exist or never emerge. Wisdom teeth can take the place of these teeth if necessary.
How Do I Know My Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
Your wisdom teeth generally need to be removed if they become impacted or begin to emerge and cause problems with your other teeth. If they become impacted, this means that they are wedged against bone or against adjacent teeth and are unable to emerge. If they do, they can often push other teeth forward. This can cause discomfort and eventual misalignment.
Signs that you might need your wisdom teeth removed include:
- Tenderness, redness, or swelling in the gums behind your existing molars
- Persistent jaw ache or earache
- You can see your wisdom teeth emerging, and other teeth become loose, move out of position, or become achy
- Any sign of infection in the back part of your mouth or jaw
If your wisdom teeth have not yet emerged, your dentist will examine your mouth at your regular dental appointments to determine if there is room for them, or if they have become impacted. The dentist can recommend whether the teeth should be removed, and then make an appointment with our team!