Wisdom teeth, AKA 3rd molars, normally make their appearance in the later teen years, between the ages of 17 and 21. Many of our very astute LO patients ask if erupting wisdom teeth will disrupt their beautiful straight smiles. The answer to this fabulous question is no. Research carried out at the University of Iowa found that wisdom teeth don’t actually exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift. Sensors were placed between the teeth of all the test patients. The results showed that there was no noticeable difference between pressure on the teeth of patients with wisdom teeth and patients without wisdom teeth.
Although you do not need to worry about your wisdom teeth wrecking your new straight smile, there are other factors that you would be WISE to consider.
- If the wisdom teeth only partially emerge, a flap of skin can form, which partially covers the wisdom teeth and traps food making it difficult to keep clean. This, in turn, can cause tooth decay or gum infections.
- Sometimes the wisdom teeth can become impacted, meaning they get wedged and stuck, possibly causing painful cysts, which may lead to infection and decay to the surrounding tooth roots.
- Wisdom teeth can come in at awkward angles; they may be uncomfortable to your cheeks or difficult to reach for proper brushing and flossing.
Dr. LeMert or your general dentist is often able to identify these problems even before the wisdom teeth erupt by evaluating a panoramic x-ray. If the recommendation is to extract them, there will also be a recommendation on when to extract them. The best time to remove wisdom teeth is after they have developed past their jelly stage and are firm enough to grab hold of but before their long roots develop fully.
Although extracting is almost always an option, it's not always necessary. If you are one of the lucky few who don’t have any problems with your wisdom teeth, the good news is, you can keep them! As for the rest of us, we may not be as lucky, but we can still be wise!