The truth behind wisdom teeth

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By Dr Craig Duval on March 7, 2014

The story behind wisdom teeth

At Sherwood Dental Care our skilled dental team understand that many of our patients are confused when it comes to wisdom teeth. Not only are patients confused about why wisdom teeth erupt, many are also unsure whether they should have their wisdom teeth removed.

Our dental professionals strive to give our patients all the information they need to make an informed decision at our Sherwood practice. When it comes to wisdom teeth, each patient is unique and the discussed outcome – whether to extract or not to extract- will differ from patient to patient. Some patients never even grow wisdom teeth, while some will have 4 erupt, some may only have 3 – there is no formula to it.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

The question of why we have wisdom teeth has been a commonly asked query for many years, asked by many different people from a variety of professions.

Regardless of why, most medical professionals will agree that in our modern lives wisdom teeth are often unnecessary within the dental arch. Some biologists have classified the teeth as “vestigial organs”, meaning that this part of the body is virtually redundant in modern times.

Why do wisdom teeth erupt later in life?

Tooth development normally occurs in two major stages: firstly with the eruption of the baby teeth and secondly with the eruption of the adult teeth. These phases can span years, with the first phase occurring around 6 months old and the second following at around 7 or 8 years. In saying that, it is important to note that like our patients, their teeth are also unique, and there is no set exact time that teeth erupt.

Unlike baby and adult teeth, wisdom teeth differ, often erupting sometime between the ages of 17 to 25.

The name “wisdom teeth” is actually derived from the notion that by the time you receive these teeth that you are normally “wise”. An answer to why they do not develop until this time could be related to the fact that the need to chew more coarse food does not develop until people reach adulthood.

Why can wisdom teeth become a concern?

While some people’s wisdom teeth will erupt with only slight discomfort and no real greater concern, often wisdom teeth can become quite problematic. This is because the upper and lower dental arch is often not large enough to accommodate these extra teeth.

What complications can arise from erupting wisdom teeth?

There are a number of concerns that can be caused by the presence or eruption of wisdom teeth. These problems include:

  • Shifting of the surrounding teeth – Wisdom teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to move in order to accommodate for the new teeth, which can not only cause complications in your bite, it can also make your teeth appear crooked.
  • Impaction – These teeth can also impact into the other teeth, which can ultimately damage the other teeth, the bite structure and even the jawbone.
  • Infection – If the teeth partially erupt, or remain beneath the gum line, they can create an opening where the bacteria can become trapped, which can ultimately lead to a bacteria growth and the spread of infection.

To extract or not to extract

As we mentioned above, this question will be entirely dependent on your particular dental condition.  Our dental professionals are committed to providing an individualised and holistic approach to dentistry, thus we assess each of our patients unique dental condition before suggesting a treatment option to them.

If you are feeling any pain or discomfort, or if you notice your wisdom teeth erupting, please do not hesitate to contact our Sherwood dental professionals.

Dr Craig Duval is committed to the highest standards of care for his patients through actively participating in professional development. Since 2003, Craig has attended over 200 hours of continuing education every year. Learn more

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