Education Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to come in during young adulthood. This generally occurs between the ages of 17 and 25.
A tooth becomes impacted when there is a lack of space in the dental arch, and its growth and eruption are prevented by overlying gum, bone or another tooth. A tooth may be partially impacted, which means a portion of it has broken through the gum, or totally impacted and unable to break through the gum at all.
Impacted and partially impacted teeth can be painful and lead to infection. They may also crowd or damage adjacent teeth or roots. More serious problems may occur if the sac surrounding the impacted tooth becomes filled with fluid and enlarges to form a cyst. As the cyst grows, it may hollow out the jaw and permanently damage adjacent teeth, the surrounding bone and nerves. If a cyst is not treated, a tumor may develop from its walls and a more serious surgical procedure may be required to remove it.
Wisdom teeth are easier to remove when the patient is younger, since their roots are not completely formed, the surrounding bone is softer and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures. Removal of wisdom teeth at a later age becomes more complicated, as the roots have fully developed (may involve the nerve), and the jawbone is denser.
Older patients may be at greater risk for disease, including periodontal, in the tissues surrounding the third molars and adjacent teeth. Periodontal infections may affect your general health.
It is not wise to wait until your wisdom teeth start to bother you. In general, earlier removal of wisdom teeth results in a less complicated healing process. It is recommended that wisdom teeth be removed by the time the patient is a young adult in order to prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.
We recommend regular cleanings and check-ups, so your dentist can monitor and evaluate not just your wisdom teeth but your overall oral health to help you prevent and manage dental disease.