Wisdom teeth (third molars) are late bloomers, only emerging during your late teens or early twenties. Usually, we have four wisdom teeth – two on the top and two on the bottom. But not everyone will have wisdom teeth emerge, given they are the teeth most likely to be congenitally missing if any.
As a leading Sydney dental practice, we know wisdom teeth well! Understanding your wisdom teeth and their behaviour makes it easier to handle the problems that can arise with them and the potential need to remove them. So, should they stay, or should they go?
Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth?
We categorise teeth based on where they are in our mouths, and what they do for us. Wisdom teeth form one of your three sets of molars. Without them, you still have another two sets of molars which serve the same purpose – grinding down food.
The early human diet of roots, greens, nuts and meat had more of a need for the extra molars/chewing teeth. But, as we now have ways to cook and soften our food along with the added help of utensils, they are not essential.
So, no – you don’t need your wisdom teeth.
Why Wisdom Teeth Get Removed
Sometimes, your wisdom teeth won’t emerge at all. But just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any. At Delight Dental Spa, our dentists can perform an X-ray to confirm if there are wisdom teeth beneath the surface of your gums.
Wisdom teeth often lead to oral health problems, whether they emerge or not. We refer to the wisdom teeth that don’t erupt through the gums as ‘impacted wisdom teeth’. And sometimes, it’s the impacted wisdom teeth that cause the most issues.
Anthropologists have noted that our jaws have become smaller with time and our diet and dental needs have, as a result, changed too. Our jaws are typically done growing by the time we are 20 years old. However, wisdom teeth tend to emerge after this and cause a range of problems simply because they do not fit.
– Overcrowded teeth
– Crooked teeth
– Sideways growing wisdom teeth
– Accelerated tooth decay due to food and plaque trapping
– Cysts beneath the gum surface
– Gum disease
– Jaw pain
Wisdom teeth that bring about any of the above-noted issues, which is most of them, generally need removal.
Should your wisdom teeth be fully emerged and happen to cause you no issues whatsoever, keeping them is an option. But it’s important to note that over time, wisdom teeth become increasingly problematic. Retaining them requires thorough and ongoing monitoring by your dentist.
The Right Time for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
In short, the best time for the removal of your wisdom teeth is before they begin to create other dental issues.
Younger mouths mean that the roots and bones are not fully formed. Therefore, the recovery after dental surgery for youngsters is less of an ordeal than it is for fully developed adults. At Delight Dental Spa, we recommend that our patients have a wisdom teeth evaluation when they reach about 16 years of age.
If wisdom teeth are fully impacted and your X-rays show that they are unlikely to erupt, it’s a good idea to consider removal as a preventative measure to avoid future problems. Whilst you can’t prevent impaction itself, you can have regular six-monthly check-ups and cleans. This allows us to track your wisdom teeth’s growth.
Our dentists will, in certain cases, recommend you have your wisdom teeth removed before any orthodontic treatment. This is to ensure that they don’t emerge, later on, interfering with the orthodontic work you’ve had done.
Wisdom teeth are not essential; neither is removing them. But it’s important to note that their presence usually makes way for a range of dental concerns, sooner or later.
Wisdom teeth that are fully emerged, functional, pain and decay-free and housed in healthy gums don’t necessarily need removal. But either way, it’s worth the discussion with your dentist.
Of course, surgery doesn’t come without risk. But hanging onto your wisdom teeth may result in the need for more significant surgery in the future. Besides this, keeping your wisdom teeth requires ongoing monitoring which requires both your time and money.
Are you feeling unsure about whether you need wisdom teeth surgery? Book an assessment with one of our experienced dental experts to determine the best course of action for you.