Although we don’t all have them, many people will have four additional teeth, called “third molars” or “wisdom teeth”, that come in at the back of the mouth between the ages of 17 and 25. Read on to learn more about these odd teeth.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Although scientists and anthropologists have not found exact evidence for the reason we have wisdom teeth, the generally accepted reason is that pre-modern humans required third molars to handle chewing the nuts, roots, leaves, and meat that formed our ancestors’ diet. Our early ancestors had larger mouths and thus more space for these four extra teeth. But as the human diet changed, our jaws evolved. Now, we no longer need these extra teeth and usually don’t have the space for them.
How Many Wisdom Teeth Do I Have?
Some people have two, three, or four wisdom teeth, while others only have one or don’t have any at all! And in rare cases, a patient may even have more than four wisdom teeth; these surplus teeth are then referred to as supernumerary teeth.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
With an oral examination and X-rays of the mouth, our expert dentists can determine whether the position of your third molars may cause future problems. If so, we will recommend their removal; but keep in mind that our recommendations are always in the best interest of your oral health!
1. Not Enough Space
Since wisdom teeth come in generally between the ages of 17 and 25, many people have already been through orthodontia by the time their third molars make an appearance on the scene. Oftentimes, the arrival of wisdom teeth will alter the landscape of your mouth, causing crowding. Sometimes the problems wisdom teeth will cause are visible before they have even come in, whether the angle is wrong or there simply isn’t enough space in the back of the mouth for more teeth.
When wisdom teeth do not erupt normally, they become stuck under the gums, or impacted. While these might not cause an immediately noticeable problem, ultimately they can damage the surrounding teeth or become infected. An infection of an impacted wisdom tooth is painful and dangerous, and can even cause bone loss. Impacted wisdom teeth may also cause cysts that can damage the base of nearby teeth and compromise the strength of the bone that supports your teeth.
3. Hard to Clean
Seeing as wisdom teeth are located all the way at the back of the mouth, they can be exceptionally hard to keep clean. They can also make it difficult to floss the surrounding molars. If these hard-to-reach areas aren’t kept clean, your risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases!
What to Expect During Wisdom Teeth Removal
At Stratman Family Dentistry, our caring team knows that wisdom teeth removal can be an unnerving thing to have to go through, but we do everything in our power to make sure that the procedure is as comfortable and painless as possible. To help you have a speedy recovery, we’ll send you home with a list of aftercare instructions and will happily answer all your questions.
To learn more about wisdom teeth, contact our Tucson dental office today!