Your mouth goes through many changes in your
lifetime. One major dental milestone that usually
takes place between the ages of 17 and 21 is the
appearance of your third molars. Historically, these
teeth have been called wisdom teeth because they
come through at a more mature age.
When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom
teeth can help you chew. It’s normal to feel a little
discomfort when your wisdom teeth appear, but if
you have pain, see your dentist immediately.
Room to Grow?Wisdom teeth can cause problems if
there isn’t enough space for them to surface or they
come through in the wrong position. If your dentist
says your wisdom teeth are impacted, he or she
means they are trapped in your jaw or under your
-As your wisdom teeth make their way through your
gums, your dentist will be monitoring your mouth
for signs of the following:
-Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position can
allow food to become trapped. That gives cavity-causing
bacteria a place to grow.
-Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly, which
can make it difficult to floss between the wisdom
teeth and the molars next to them.
-Wisdom teeth that have partially come through can
give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create
a place for infection to occur. This may also cause
pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
-Wisdom teeth that don’t have room to come through
can cause your neighboring teeth to be crowded or
-A wisdom tooth that is impacted can form a cyst on
or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the
roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that
supports your teeth.
Why You Might Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth
Every patient is unique, but in general,
wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there
is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:
- Damage to neighboring teeth
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)
teeth as part of treatment for braces or other dental
Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine
your mouth and take an x-ray. Together, you and your
dentist can discuss the best course of treatment.
Keeping Your Wisdom Teeth?Wisdom teeth that are not
removed should continue to be monitored because the
potential for developing problems later on still exists.
As people age, they are at greater risk for health
problems—and that includes potential problems with
their wisdom teeth. Be sure to, floss around your
wisdom teeth and visit your dentist regularly. Regular
dental visits allow your dentist to evaluate your
wisdom teeth and your overall dental health.