Wisdom teeth often cause problems and need to be removed. It’s common to wonder why we have these teeth in the first place and whether it’s necessary to have them removed.
The following are answers to some of the most common questions about wisdom teeth:
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars and are the last adult teeth to appear in the mouth. Not everyone has wisdom teeth, and some people may have fewer than four. For those who have a full set of four wisdom teeth, two erupt at the upper back of your mouth, and two erupt at the lower back. They typically start to come in when you’re 17 to 25 years old.
Do you need wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth aren’t necessary. Our ancient ancestors had them because they needed to chew rough food like nuts and roots. Today, these teeth have outlived their purpose and are no longer necessary.
Why do wisdom teeth sometimes need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth can cause problems because our jaws are not as large as our ancestors’ jaws. As a result, we may not have enough room in our mouths for wisdom teeth to grow.
When your dentist takes an oral x-ray, they can see your wisdom teeth even if they haven’t erupted yet. This enables your dentist to detect potential problems before your wisdom teeth emerge.
Problems that can occur with your wisdom teeth include the following:
- Impacted teeth – Wisdom teeth can become trapped in your jaw or under your gums. The tooth may then develop a cyst on or near it. This could damage the roots or bone that support nearby teeth.
- Partial eruption – Wisdom teeth that do not fully emerge can give bacteria a way to enter your gums, causing infection and pain.
- Wrong position – If your wisdom teeth are in the wrong position, food can become trapped and provide a haven for cavity-causing bacteria.
- Overcrowding – If you do not have enough room between your wisdom teeth and the molars next to them, proper flossing may not be possible. And as your wisdom teeth come in, they could push on other teeth and cause them to become crooked.