Wisdom teeth – your third set of molars – are the last permanent teeth to emerge from your gums, and typically, they appear between the ages of 17 and 25 years. Since these teeth don’t come until you are older and “wiser”, they are referred to as wisdom teeth.
However, it may not always be wise to keep your wisdom teeth, and for many young adults, wisdom teeth removal is often necessary for a number of reasons. For starters, if your lower jaw is underdeveloped, there may be insufficient room for your wisdom teeth to emerge. This problem is becoming more common as a result of our modern diet.
While our ancestors had proper jaw development with heaps of room for a full set of 32 adult teeth as a result of eating crunchy, chewy nutrient-rich food – by comparison, today’s kids are often fed soft, nutrient-poor food that you don’t even need to chew. Less chewing means your jaw doesn’t fully develop through lack of use.
When there isn’t enough room for your wisdom teeth to grow, they may become impacted which means they remain partially or fully covered by gum tissue. A number of oral health complications may result of this oral condition, including:
- Overcrowding which can result in wisdom and adjacent teeth becoming misaligned.
- Damage to adjacent molars which can result in cavities and bone loss.
- Pain and swelling in the jaw.
- Chronic gum irritation and inflammation due to recurrent bacterial infection around partially impacted wisdom teeth. Gum infections that occur 3mm or more beneath the gum line may spread other parts of the body, such as the heart or kidney.
- Growth of small cysts or tumours in the jawbone beneath impacted wisdom teeth.
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Loss of gum and/or bone tissue
- Difficulty to keep clean and hygienic because of limited space, which may make those areas hard to reach with a toothbrush and floss.
Not everybody with impacted wisdom teeth will experience the problems listed above, but it’s best to get them removed as a precaution to safeguard your oral health. However, the ideal time to remove impacted wisdom teeth is when they have just emerged, and before their roots become fully developed. Otherwise, extraction in later life may be more problematic, with longer post-surgery recovery times.
When considering wisdom teeth extraction, it’s important to consult with your dentist to understand your personal situation. Remember to ask about which wisdom teeth need or don’t need to be extracted and why, as well as the possible complications, risks and recovery time.
For more information regarding wisdom teeth removal, call us on 3219 9806 (Underwood) or 3273 3220 (Calamvale). Our dentists here at Healthy Smile Dental have the experience, skills and facilities to provide you with a comfortable, personal and professional dental experience.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) advises that any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified dental health practitioner.