Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

The third molars, known simply as your wisdom teeth, are the last permanent teeth to erupt into your mouth some time between the ages of 17 and 21 years old. It is thought that the third molars were given the name "wisdom teeth" because they erupt at a time when a child becomes wiser -- as they enter adulthood.

The average person will develop four wisdom teeth, but that's not always the case for others. Many people develop supernumerary (extra) wisdom teeth or, if you're lucky, others fail to develop some or all of their wisdom teeth altogether.

The average mouth will only comfortably hold 28 of the 32 teeth we are predisposed to have. Since the wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt, there is often little room left to accommodate their size and anatomy, which often causes the wisdom teeth to either:

·           Become impacted under the gum tissue and bone
·           Partially erupt into the mouth, resulting in only part of the tooth exposed above the gumline
·           Fully erupt into the mouth in an undesirable position -- usually tilting forward, pushing on the tooth in front of it.

It is quite possible that each one of your wisdom teeth will erupt differently from one another, for example you could have only one impacted wisdom tooth, and the rest could fully erupt.
During your regular dental check-up, your dentist may take a orthopantomogram x-ray, also known as a panorex, to diagnose whether or not your wisdom teeth need to be removed. 

This x-ray gives the dentist a clear view of the area around the wisdom teeth, to determine the type of extraction necessary for each wisdom tooth. When the dentist discovers a reason for you to have your wisdom teeth removed he will access the position of the wisdom teeth and how each root is formed. Depending on his findings, your dentist will make the decision to preform the wisdom teeth extractions for you, or refer you to see an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon for your wisdom teeth extractions.