According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the majority of Americans have all or some of their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth are a set of third molars that usually emerge in your teens or early twenties, and they have the potential to derail your oral health.
Our Grand Rapids, MI family dentists can let you know if your wisdom teeth will need to be removed. But what are wisdom teeth, and why do they need to be taken out?
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
The most widely accepted theory behind wisdom teeth asks us to look to the diet of our distant ancestors for answers. Early humans ate a much different diet than the soft foods we eat today.
Our ancestors lived off a diet that consisted of roots, raw meat, and tough plants. To help them grind these tough foods, they developed a third set of molars and larger jaws to accommodate the extra teeth.
Today, humans have smaller jaws and eat much softer foods. However, our genes still produce wisdom teeth that no longer have room to grow.
When wisdom teeth don’t have room to properly emerge through the gum line, they can come in at odd angles or even horizontally. In other words, crooked wisdom teeth can cause a lot of damage to your smile and undo years of orthodontics or cosmetic dental work.
How Do Wisdom Teeth Affect Oral Health?
One of our family dentists will be able to look at your x-rays to determine if you’ll need wisdom teeth removal. Wisdom teeth don’t form until around the age of 10 and don’t emerge until early adulthood. This means that our dentists will have plenty of time to monitor the angles of the wisdom teeth and determine whether there’s enough space in your jaw to accommodate the extra teeth.
Wisdom teeth coming in crooked must be removed as soon as possible. If your jawbone is too small to accommodate wisdom teeth, these teeth may become trapped under the surface of the gums or may only partially erupt.
In these scenarios, a crooked or impacted wisdom tooth can weaken bone structure, undo years of orthodontic work, and cause pain and infection. Thankfully, our dentists will recommend wisdom teeth removal before this happens.
Why Remove Wisdom Teeth?
While most people need wisdom teeth removal during early adulthood, there are some people who are able to keep some or all of their wisdom teeth. If your wisdom teeth are coming in straight and there’s enough space in the jaw, our dentists may tell you that a wisdom tooth extraction isn’t necessary.
Each patient’s dental history is unique, which is why our dentists will need to look at your x-rays to determine if you are able to keep your wisdom teeth. One of our wisdom teeth removal dentists will be able to show you x-rays of your teeth and explain the situation in a way that is easy for you to understand.
If you experience wisdom tooth pain, we recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our dentists as soon as possible. Sometimes the only way to get relief from pain is through wisdom tooth extraction.
Make an Appointment Today!
[This blog post has been updated.]