Wisdom teeth are the last molar teeth in every corner of our top and bottom jaw. Like everything else there is an exception here as well, few of us don’t have all four of them and in rare cases some have more than four! Once a colleague called the extra ones, genius teeth! Though they are formally known as supernumerary teeth, I liked his naming better. I digressed…
I think people who have less than four wisdom teeth are more evolved than the rest of us, because during evolution our jaws got smaller but the number of teeth stayed the same. Hence the problem of impacted wisdom teeth.
What are the problems associated with wisdom teeth?
1) Lack of space to accommodate their eruption into the mouth, causes them to form sideways. Most bottom ones grow towards the last or second molars and top ones grow away from them. With every tooth, first the crown of it develops within bone and as the root(s) is developing, it is pushing the tooth in the mouth. Wisdom teeth are not so wise to know that there is no room for them in our mouth (few of us have room for them but more than few…don’t) so the roots are going to form and push them wherever they can be pushed. With our bottom jaw, they can come so close to the tooth erupted before them that they can damage those teeth and cause the eventual loss of them. And with the top jaw they can erupt on the opposite direction of the tooth beside them and the shear presence of them in there can cause pain upon opening our jaw. Imagine that, it is like something is poking us.
2) They can erupt into the mouth partially, a bit exposed to oral cavity and a bit hidden from it. Access of food and bacteria to them and the impossibility of keeping them clean causes decay and toothache.
3) The half erupted ones can cause food impaction between them and the tooth beside them. Causing decay of the good tooth (good, because we are using them for chewing while we can not use half impacted tooth for chewing). Or causing loss of a bone that is supporting the good tooth – we can end up losing the good one as well as the wisdom tooth.
4) There is very small chance of them developing a cyst which causes destruction of jaw bone and the tooth next to them.
5) There is very small chance of them developing tumor.
6) There is very very small chance of them causing crowding
The best time to remove them is when the crown is formed but roots are not fully formed. So we can just scoop them out. And it is at most cases when we are between 15 to 17 years old. X-ray taken at the dental office will show that. So why wait until they bother us!! We can help.