By the age of eighteen, most adults will have 32 teeth. The average upper and lower jaws are made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be uncomfortable when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that only holds 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, often referred as wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt into your mouth. When they align properly and the gum tissue is healthy, they do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not happen often. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting into the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.
These poorly positioned and impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the gum tissues surrounding them get infected easily. This can result in swelling, stiffness, and pain. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may cause jaw pain and crowding and misalignment of teeth. In very rare cases, 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. Early removal of the offending impacted wisdom tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems.
With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, we can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early intervention and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient.