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Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth

Although not always the case, the average adult has 32 teeth by the ages of 18-21. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth, or molars, are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.


Very often, there isn’t enough space in the mouth to accommodate all 32 teeth. The last tooth in each corner, known as your third molars or wisdom teeth, are usually the ones that don’t have enough room to erupt properly.


Why Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed.


Unfortunately, this is often not the case. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.


Poorly positioned, impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness.


The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth.


Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is often recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.