Did you know, around 85% of wisdom teeth eventually need to be removed?Ethical Dental
If you are a young adult, you probably know lots of people who are suffering because of their wisdom teeth. Maybe most of them already have an appointment with a dentist to remove them. Wisdom teeth usually decide they need attention at the most inopportune time, like during exams or while travelling. So understanding how best to navigate this challenge is important.
How can it be wise to get wisdom teeth if they cause problems?
Well, there is nothing mythical about these teeth. Wisdom teeth is the name given to the third molars. Because they usually erupt between 18-21 years old, when someone is reaching the adulthood and is (or should be) “wiser”, they are commonly known as “wisdom teeth”.
Although most people have third molars, around 1-3% of the population is born without them. But if having wisdom teeth is so common and normal, why do a lot of people remove them?
While having third molars is common, but it is also very common for people not to have enough room for them. So, instead of erupting and becoming functional teeth, many wisdom teeth only partially emerge from the gum (this is called an impaction). An impacted wisdom tooth can be prone to infection and decay, and can cause anything from an occasional mild discomfort, to acute pain and swelling.
So why do we even have them?
This lack of space can be explained by several theories. One of them has to do with better oral hygiene in the early stages of life. One idea is that wisdom teeth are like “replacement teeth”, so if you don’t lose any other teeth (because of a good hygiene) you won’t have space for them.
Another theory has to do with evolution. The modern human ancestor had a larger jaw, which had room to accommodate wisdom teeth. As we evolved, our jaws started to grow smaller, and now we don’t have enough room for them.
My wisdom teeth have never worried me. Should I still have them removed?
However, it is important to say that not everyone will need to remove them. Wisdom teeth should only be removed when there is a problem. As mentioned before, sometimes the wisdom teeth can cause damage to neighbouring teeth, due to a lack of space or its positioning. Also, if it doesn’t erupt completely it can cause persistent gum infections, which can be quite dangerous. Another reason for removal is tooth decay: because of their location, it’s not easy to clean them properly.
So, it’s very important to talk to your dentist about your wisdom teeth when they start erupting, especially if you feel any discomfort. An OPG x-ray is a easy, and standardised way to assessing wisdom tooth position and determining whether intervention is necessary or advisable.
If you are experiencing wisdom tooth pain or discomfort book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental on 6652 3185 or book online. To learn more about your wisdom teeth check out our articles Impacted Wisdom Teeth: What to do? and Wisdom Teeth: Blessing or Burden?.