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Can I keep my wisdom teeth?

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The third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the last to grow of all 32 adult teeth. These molars grow at the back of the upper and lower jaws behind the other existing adult teeth.

They are called “wisdom teeth”, as they typically appear when people are thought to have become wiser with experience and age. Usually, wisdom teeth will erupt from the gums between the ages of 17 to 21.

This happens significantly later than the rest of the adult teeth, which would have already grown out during childhood.

Does Everyone Get Wisdom Teeth?

Most people will have developed all four wisdom teeth by their twenties. However, in some cases, only a few or even none at all may come in through the gums. These discrepancies are based on a variety of factors, such as genetics, gender, and diet.

They all come into play as to who will develop and have wisdom teeth come in.

What are some of the Problems Associated With Wisdom Teeth?

If you’re lucky, you won’t have to experience any issues when your wisdom teeth do grow. Unfortunately, more often than not, wisdom teeth tend to present a few inconveniences.

The main reason wisdom teeth can be such a pain for people, is simply that our jaws aren’t big enough for them to fit properly in our mouths. Growing teeth can sometimes be painful, and when there isn’t enough room for the teeth to grow properly, it can amplify this pain.

As wisdom teeth grow, they may become impacted, growing sideways or crooked in the jaw. Some issues related to this are changes in bite occlusion and overcrowding of the jaw, which can lead to difficulties in maintaining oral hygiene, infection, cysts, nerve damage and other complications.

When molars grow in sideways or crooked, it may be difficult to brush and floss adequately between them. This in turn creates an environment that causes teeth to be susceptible to tooth decay. Food may also become trapped in between the teeth, which is bad for overall gum health.

Quite commonly for wisdom teeth that grow crooked, they can also push other teeth out of their normal positions, causing a change in the occlusion (position and fit) of your bite.

In worse cases, it may no longer be possible to chew food or close your mouth properly due to misaligned teeth and facial pain.

If the molars have developed but don’t erupt through the gums, cysts can develop in the jaw bone around the tooth. Cysts can become infected and damage the bone, nerves and soft tissue of the mouth and other teeth.

In rare cases, the lining around the impacted wisdom teeth that are chronically infected may develop cancer.

When Should You See Your Dentist About Your Wisdom Teeth?

When you’re around the age of 16 or 17, your dentist should be checking to see whether your wisdom teeth have formed. If no third molars are present, you don’t have to worry.

If the wisdom teeth have formed, your dentist may be able to tell from their position and size whether they will come in normally and without any complications.

You may also be asked to have follow-up visits every few months to monitor tooth eruption and overall oral health.

After examination, your dentist may recommend that the wisdom teeth be removed. It’s safer and easier to remove a tooth early if it looks like it’s going to cause problems.

This is because as the tooth matures, its roots harden and embed into the jawbone, making extraction more difficult. Surgery may be required in order to carry out a more complex extraction, and the time necessary for recovery will also increase.

What are the Risks of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

As with any procedure, there are risks involved. However, most wisdom teeth can be safely removed with the use of a local anesthetic.

After the removal procedure, you may feel lingering pain or have swelling and your lips or mouth may also be numb for several days. In rare cases, surgery can affect nearby teeth.

What are the Benefits of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Having wisdom teeth removed makes it easier to clean and take care of other teeth, and you avoid the possibility of wisdom teeth-related infections, cysts and overcrowding. Additionally, if you’re considering orthodontic treatment, wisdom teeth extraction is often advised.

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