The average adult has thirty-two teeth by age eighteen: sixteen teeth on the top and sixteen teeth on the bottom. However, the average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in this space. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth”.
Why Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come in – and the ones least needed for good oral health. When they align properly, and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not usually happen. Most often, wisdom teeth are impacted, or trapped in the jawbone and gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can take many positions and cause many problems as they attempt to emerge from your gums. When they partially emerge, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and can eventually cause an infection with swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move your other teeth and disrupt their natural alignment. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jaw bone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, we can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Generally, patients should be evaluated first in their mid-teenage years.