There’s an old saying that “no news is good news.” In the case wisdom teeth, we think that’s probably true.
We like to keep a close eye on our patients’ wisdom teeth, which generally erupt in your late teens or early 20s. If everything is OK, then there’s no reason to do anything about them. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case with wisdom teeth.
Some experts estimate that up to 85 percent of people will go through wisdom teeth removal.
We’ll discuss some of the reasons why below. Just know that if you live in or near Tulsa, OK, our dentist office can take out your wisdom teeth before they cause too much trouble.
What Wisdom Teeth Are
Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars. Molars are the larger, flatter teeth in the back of your mouth. Their primary purpose is to grind down your food so it can be digested more easily.
The problem is that we, modern humans, have smaller mouths than our ancestors. Why this may be the case is not entirely clear, although scientists do have a couple hypotheses.
Since our ancestors ate a rougher diet, it’s possible the third molars helped to break down the food. At the same time, the third set of molars may have been a way for our ancestors to replace missing teeth as well.
Regardless of the reasons, most of us don’t have jaws that are large enough to accommodate one more set of teeth. And that leads us to …
The Problems With Wisdom Teeth
For the few people whose mouths are large enough for their wisdom teeth to fit, they come in straight and don’t cause any issues.
For the rest of us, wisdom teeth can become either fully or partially impacted. A fully impacted tooth does not break the surface of the gums (although it can be seen on X-rays). A partially impacted tooth does break the gum surface but is not able to fully erupt.
In either case, impacted teeth can create a variety of problems:
▸ Gum Disease
Depending on how wisdom teeth erupt, they can cause flaps in your gum tissue. These flaps are places where bacteria can become trapped and increase your risk of infections.
Since this is not an easy place to clean, it can allow gum disease to spread within your mouth.
▸ Tooth Decay
A wisdom tooth that comes in at an angle can create spaces that can’t be cleaned with a toothbrush or dental floss. Again, this can allow bacteria to become trapped. That can lead to plaque, which increases your risk of cavities on the wisdom tooth itself or on the neighboring tooth.
This can be a result of the two issues we mentioned above (gum disease or tooth decay), or it may be a result of how the wisdom tooth is coming in.
Your wisdom tooth may try to force its way into place even if there isn’t room for it to erupt. This can put pressure on neighboring teeth. As a result, they may push nearby teeth into one another.
This can make it more difficult to clean between multiple teeth. This also can affect the alignment of your teeth and create crooked smiles.
A wisdom tooth although can trap fluids which can cause a cyst to form. If left untreated this could damage the roots of your teeth or even the jawbone holding your teeth in place.
Dealing With Wisdom Teeth
As with most oral health issues, being proactive is the best approach to dealing with wisdom teeth.
This starts with regular dental exams to Galleria of Smiles. When you make regular visits to our office, we will take X-rays to monitor the development of your wisdom teeth.
If we notice something that concerns us, we may recommend removing those teeth before the problems begin. This can save you from the gum disease, tooth decay, pain, and other issues before they happen.
And in most cases, we don’t need to refer you somewhere else. We can perform wisdom teeth removals in our office.
How To Make Your Appointment
You can contact us online by filling out our online form to request an appointment. You also can call our Tulsa dentist office at 918-302-2401.