What are wisdom teeth and do I need them?

Odds are that you know a lot of people who have had their wisdom teeth removed. You may be wondering whether or not you’ll need to get your wisdom teeth out– and if it’s safe. So what are wisdom teeth? Do you need yours?

 

The reality is that wisdom teeth are a relic of when we ate more chewy foods. When our diets included sticks and other tough plants, our molars wore out faster. Wisdom teeth provided a replacement.

 

Nowadays, you don’t need wisdom teeth. Softer diets and better oral hygiene mean that our molars aren’t likely to wear out, so these replacements are redundant. In fact, wisdom teeth don’t really fit in our mouths. The average person’s mouth can only hold 28 teeth without overcrowding. Wisdom teeth make that number 32, which is why wisdom teeth often can cause bite problems, pain, and misalignment.

 

Should I Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

 

If you don’t need your wisdom teeth, does that mean they should be taken out? That really depends on your mouth. Some people can go their whole lives without any problems associated with their wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, many people do experience such issues, which is why you should visit your dentist regularly, especially in your teens and 20s (when wisdom teeth are growing in).

 

Your dentist will monitor the growth of your wisdom teeth for signs that they may be painful or problematic later in life. If they see potential issues, your dentist will recommend a surgery to remove your wisdom teeth. Some common reasons you may need to have your wisdom teeth removed include:

 

  • Impacted teeth: If there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt through your gums, they can become impacted, which can hurt! Impacted teeth also can develop cysts, which do damage to other teeth and your jaw.
  • Irritated gums: When wisdom teeth grow in awkwardly, they can irritate your gums. This inflames the gums and makes them more susceptible to infection. This inflammation can ultimately make your wisdom teeth more prone to cavities, too.
  • Sinus pressure: If your wisdom teeth push against the jaw uncomfortably, this can cause sinus pressure and pain as you age.
  • Misaligned bite: Wisdom teeth usually don’t fit in your mouth well. This can mean that wisdom teeth won’t always erupt straight. This can push teeth out of the way, ultimately misaligning your entire bite. A misaligned bite isn’t just a cosmetic problem, either. It can cause uneven wear on teeth and pain.
  • Cavities:Wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth that they are very hard to fill.  So a moderate size cavity may be enough to condemn the tooth.

 

If you are worried about your wisdom teeth, the best thing you can do is talk to a dentist. At Kantor Dental, we have helped thousands of patients make informed decisions about their wisdom teeth. Let us help you do the same.