Your mouth and teeth more specifically will undergo a lot of changes over the years. As humans we are all born with a complete set of teeth that are simply recessed in the jaw.
Beginning at the age of six your child will begin losing their baby teeth to make way for adult teeth. Around the age of six the first set of molars become visible and then around the age of 12 the second set of molars will appear.
At the age of 17 adults will get their final set of adult teeth, commonly called wisdom teeth. These teeth are in fact a third set of molars, and earn their name “wisdom teeth” because of the age that they emerge in the mouth.
What to Expect
Anthropologists believe that while wisdom teeth were necessary for our ancestors to chew given their standard diet of nuts, roots, and meat, humans have evolved beyond needing them. In addition, scientists believe that our jaws have evolved and become smaller over time as well.
Since wisdom teeth are the last to emerge in the mouth, and given the smaller jaw of most people, there may not be enough space for wisdom teeth to come through. As a result, wisdom teeth can partially emerge or they remain trapped inside your jaw or under your gums. Teeth that do not emerge in the mouth are commonly referred to as impacted.
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis has a number of benefits for your overall oral health, one such benefit is that as you age, your dentist will be monitoring your mouth to watch for signs of problems with your wisdom teeth.
Problems can occur in both partially emerged and impacted wisdom teeth. Partial eruption can result in an opening in the gum line that allows bacteria to get through to the root of the tooth. Additionally, if wisdom teeth begin to emerge in an incorrect position they can cause a shift in your teeth or bite. Finally, incorrectly positioned teeth can be a trap for cavity-causing bacteria.
While a little discomfort as wisdom teeth erupt is normal if you begin to have severe pain you should contact your dentist immediately as it may be a sign of a problem.
Getting Wisdom Teeth Removed
Because wisdom teeth are no longer necessary for humans to chew their food, and given the problems they can cause many adults opt to have their wisdom teeth removed. If your dentist begins to notice problems or changes in the mouth including damaging of teeth, tooth decay, pain, infection, or cysts they’re likely to suggest you get yours removed.
In the event this happens, your dentist may be able to remove the teeth themselves or they’re more likely to refer you to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon.
Oral surgeons are often a preferred choice for patients because they are trained to do the removal procedure using IV sedation. This can be a great option for many patients as long as they feel comfortable with that level of sedation. Once the removal of the wisdom teeth is complete it is important to follow the instructions of your oral surgeon or dentist to ensure proper care of the extraction site and to avoid complications.
At Inland Family Dentistry we understand that many patients suffer from the very real experience of dental fear and dental anxiety. Because of this we always consult with patients to monitor their comfort level and ensure that any treatment plan is designed to suit their needs.