Located in the very back of your mouth are your wisdom teeth (the third molars). Normally your dentist begins to keep an eye on their development in the late teenage years and if they need to be removed, ideally, the time is between the ages of 17 and 25.
The removal of wisdom teeth is not necessary if they are:
- Growing in completely (fully erupted)
- Positioned correctly and your bite matches properly with opposing teeth
- Able to be cleaned as part of the daily hygiene routine
Wisdom teeth frequently do not have enough room to grow properly, and that can cause problems, which is why they are often removed. Even if your wisdom teeth are not a source of pain, they can still cause dental issues that need addressing.
To make a recommendation, your dentist will look at the shape of your mouth and the position of your teeth. Most of the time they are removed due to one of these reasons:
Impacted wisdom teeth - Since they are so far in the back of your mouth, wisdom teeth may not grow normally. They can be trapped or hidden within your gums. Having an impacted tooth can be painful and sometimes can result in an infection.
They are angled incorrectly - Wisdom teeth that grow in at the wrong angle or don’t have enough room can crowd and damage existing teeth.
Emerge partially through the gums - Partially erupted wisdom teeth are a magnet for bacteria that can cause gum disease or infections because the area around them is hard to see and clean
Many dentists believe it is better to remove wisdom teeth at a young age before the roots and bone fully form. Some young adults have their wisdom teeth pulled as a preventive treatment, and because their recovery after surgery is faster than older adults. There is no “correct” age for wisdom tooth removal, however. If your wisdom teeth are not causing you any pain or dental problems, it is not necessary to have them removed. If you decide not to have them removed, a recommended course is to have your dentist check your wisdom teeth with your biannual checkups to ensure that they are staying healthy.
Dr. James Pochron at Chesapeake Dental in Chester, can examine your teeth and gums and let you know the status of your wisdom teeth. Call today for an appointment!