Wisdom Teeth

What is a Wisdom Tooth:

The last molars to erupt in the back of your mouth are commonly known as Wisdom Teeth (Mandibular Third Molar). They are called wisdom teeth because they usually begin coming in between the ages of 17 to 21 or older – the “coming of age” time period in a person’s life.

Normally an adult will have four wisdom teeth, but some adults may have more or less. Early humans had a rougher diet which caused wear on their teeth making it spatially possible for them to keep and use their wisdom teeth. However, with our current diet and the desire to have orthodontic teeth straightening, we produce a fuller arch in the jaw, creating less room for wisdom teeth to grow.

Why Do They Get Impacted:

A tooth becomes impacted because there is a lack of space in the dental arch, causing the tooth to grow on an angle towards the other molars and their roots or toward the jaw. This impaction can cause a lot of pain for the individual and can also lead to infection (See Figure 1). The wisdom tooth may also crowd or damage the adjacent molar and its roots (See Figure 2), or damage the jaw bone and its nerves. Also, when the wisdom tooth is growing toward adjacent teeth, it can trap plaque and debris making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Wisdom teeth will likely cause problems as the patient ages. Approximately 85% of wisdom teeth will need to be removed. We may recommend that your wisdom teeth are removed before they begin to cause problems in your mouth to avoid a more complicated procedure.