Nearly all of us develop wisdom teeth, and almost all of us wish we didn't. We have them on each side of our mouth, upper and lower. Strictly speaking, they are our third set of molars. And in fact, they are visitors from a previous life that have long outlived their welcome and their usefulness.
There was a time when our eating habits demanded more teeth, presumably to tear and chew raw meat off the bones of animals. Our forebears' jaws were large enough to accommodate 32 teeth, including the big chompers that we call wisdom teeth. But today, most of our jaws are only large enough to house 28 teeth. Something has to give!
Wisdom teeth begin to form at around age nine, and are usually completely mature by 18-21 years. By your late teens, your jawbone has nearly reached its adult size, but usually it isn't big enough to hold the wisdom teeth. As a result, these teeth can become trapped in the bone. When this happens, they grow wherever they can. The tooth's crown may only partially break through the gum, or it may remain completely in the bone with the roots becoming misshapen or misplaced, growing dangerously close to a sinus cavity. Wisdom teeth can often become impacted in the jaw, or grow into adjacent teeth.
It's difficult for us to predict when or if your wisdom teeth will give you problems, but regular x-rays can give us a good indication. Impacted or infected wisdom teeth can cause severe damage. Removal at a younger age before complications develop means easier extractions and a much faster recovery time. Talk to us. We will develop a plan to help you make healthy choices about your wisdom teeth.