With age comes wisdom. Specifically, wisdom teeth.
Your mouth goes through many changes in your lifetime. One of the changes that takes place between the ages of 17 and 21 is the appearance of your third molars or your “wisdom teeth.” They call them wisdom teeth because they come through at a more mature age.
When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when your wisdom teeth appear, but if you have pain, see your Dentist immediately.
Sometimes these new teeth can lead to problems if there isn’t enough space for them to surface or they come through in the wrong position. If your Dentist says your wisdom teeth are “impacted,” he or she means they are trapped in your jaw or under your gums. This can be very painful.
As your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums, your Dentist will be monitoring your mouth for signs of the following:
- Food can become trapped if your wisdom teeth come in the wrong direction. This can cause cavity-causing bacteria to grow.
- Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly can make it difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
- Wisdom teeth that have partially come through can give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create a place for infection to occur. This may also lead to pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
- If they don’t have room to come through they can crowd or damage your other teeth.
Everybody is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:
- Damage to neighboring teeth or tooth decay
- Gum disease
Your Dentist may also recommend the removal of wisdom teeth as part of your treatment plan for braces or other dental care.
Is It Okay to Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?
Even if your Dentist decides to keep your wisdom teeth, the potential for developing problems later on still exists. As people age, they are at a greater risk for health problems, and that includes potential problems with their wisdom teeth. As a standard precaution, be sure to floss around your wisdom teeth and make sure to maintain your 6 months dental appointments.