Wisdom teeth facts

Why are our third molars called “wisdom teeth” anyway? They are referred to as wisdom teeth because they usually erupt at a more mature age, usually between 17 and 25.   In recent years, science has confirmed that third molars actually do appear when a person is “wiser.” Research has demonstrated that the brain grows through adolescence, into early adulthood, and does not reach full maturity until the age of 25.  Anthropological evidence has shown that our early ancestors possessed a broader jaw and the wisdom teeth were able to grow in easily.  The wisdom teeth were needed for chewing power to consume coarse foods like nuts, roots, leaves and meat. Changes have occurred to our teeth as humans have evolved with advancements in the diet.  Our softer and refined foods have made wisdom teeth less critical.    Now, we no longer need these extra teeth and usually don’t have the space for them.

The reality is that the majority of people around the world have impacted wisdom teeth, meaning their third molars are stuck underneath their jaw bone and gums.  Most of the time they cannot be viewed without a panoramic x-ray. Many of these wisdom teeth are positioned horizontal, mesioangular (most common), or distoangular, which prevent their eruption into the mouth.  In the event that the wisdom teeth partially erupt, they may be more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth due to poor accessibility for cleaning.

Dr. Varghese monitors our patients’ dental eruption, including the formation of wisdom teeth during and after orthodontic treatment.  Most of the time wisdom teeth need to be removed due to lack of space for them to erupt and consequent impaction.   As the wisdom teeth develop in a sac within the jawbone, the sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the jawbone, teeth, and nerves. Leaving the impacted teeth can ultimately damage the surrounding teeth, the surrounding bone, and can even become infected.  Extracting wisdom teeth before the roots are fully formed generally produce fewer surgical complications.  Younger patients tend to have fewer risks and faster healing as with any surgical procedure. When and if the time comes to have your wisdom teeth removed, we will give you a referral to an oral surgeon.

Please contact our office for some more great info at 630.907.9680 or 847.961.5515 🙂

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