Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. This usually happens between the ages of 17 and 25 (supposedly heralding the person’s growing wisdom). They nestle right at the back of the mouth, behind the second molars. Not everyone has them. We have smaller jaws than our ancestors, allowing for less room in our mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth. It is widely believed that this is an evolutionary development in response to changes in our diet to less fibrous foods that require less chewing. This results in the jaws becoming smaller because the chewing muscles which are anchored to the jaws are smaller resulting in the jaw bone not needing to be as big. Because of the lack of room, wisdom teeth often don’t break through (erupt) fully or at all, instead becoming impacted (wedged against bone or existing teeth and unable to fully emerge).
What should be done with my wisdom teeth?
If your impacted wisdom teeth cause the following problems, you may need to have them removed:
- tooth decay that cannot be treated
- abscessing around the wisdom tooth
- infection of the gum flap overlying the partially erupted wisdom tooth
- infection of the bone (osteomyelitis)
- cysts or tumours involving the wisdom tooth
- Wisdom teeth can cause the tooth in front to decay due to food trapping
If you are worried about or are having problems with your wisdom teeth Contact Us for a wisdom tooth assessment.