If you are like most people (about 85 percent, anyway), the main thing you know about your wisdom teeth is you had them removed sometime between the ages of 17 and 21 and that it wasn’t particularly enjoyable. Having your wisdom teeth removed is almost a rite of passage for most Americans, and our main goal is usually to forget about the entire process as quickly as possible. If you’ve ever wondered what you were missing when it comes to information about these extremely late molars, here is the dental list you need to be a wisdom tooth expert in just about any room.
1. Wisdoms are not extra teeth. You just get them later in life.
You know, like wisdom? Your wisdom teeth usually come in when you are in your late teens, and they are named as such because of that old saying, “With age comes wisdom.” And, you know, you’re so wise at 17, right? Wisdom teeth come in at the very back of your mouth, and you have two on the top and two on the bottom (in most cases).
2. If you don’t have wisdom teeth, you probably won’t miss them.
These back molars are the final four teeth in a full set of adult teeth, but some people’s wisdom teeth never come in, are underdeveloped, or just don’t exist! Molars are the teeth we use to chew our food, and many scientists believe that humans are slowly evolving so that the “extra” teeth that used to help keep us fed when we were living in caves (and that now can create huge oral-health problems) are being phased out of existence as our jaws change shape to accommodate a more varied diet.
3. A poorly positioned wisdom tooth can “eat” adjacent tooth roots.
Creepy, right? Okay, so they don’t actually chew up the roots of other teeth and swallow them, but wisdom teeth that grow in sideways can create so much irritation in the adjacent gum area that the root of a healthy, normal tooth actually wears away over time. There is also a sack of tissue around your teeth before they grow into your mouth and become visible. If a wisdom tooth does not come all the way in, that sack can turn into a cyst and create bone loss in your jaw!
Most People Treat Wisdom Teeth Preventatively To Avoid Bigger Problems
Most dental procedures are reactive, meaning that you have them because something else has happened to create an issue in your mouth that has to be solved by an oral procedure. However, dentists often remove wisdom teeth because there are so many potential oral-health issues associated with keeping them. Of course, every patient (and every patient’s mouth) is different, so the best thing to do is have a conversation with your dentist about your wisdom teeth.
Dr. Pat Crawford’s dental practice offers x-rays and consultations to help you figure out what to do about your wisdom teeth. Make an appointment for a consultation today or learn more about wisdom teeth at PatCrawfordDDS.com.