Wisdom Teeth

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About Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, most adults will have 32 total teeth. However, nearly 90% of adults will only have the approximate jaw size to hold 28. Those extra four teeth are typically the third molars, or “wisdom teeth.” Some people are born without these “extra” teeth – in fact, they are the most common teeth to be born without – but for the rest of us, the extra teeth in the jaw causes problems.

When the wisdom teeth come in (years after the rest of our permanent teeth), there is often little to no space for them to erupt. This forces them into strange positions, or to grow into spaces they were not meant to – a condition called “impacted”. This can damage the wisdom teeth and the surrounding teeth and tissues, including the possibility of cysts, abscesses, tumors and other maladies.

When Should Wisdom Teeth Come Out?

The “common wisdom” of years past indicated that wisdom teeth should only be taken out after they erupted or caused problems. We now know, however, that in many cases, wisdom teeth can already cause major problems before erupting.

Waiting to remove a wisdom tooth only gives the tooth time to grow larger and become more difficult to extract. Also, older patients often suffer more complications and longer recovery times than their younger counterparts when undergoing wisdom tooth extractions.