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Is Keeping Wisdom Teeth Wise?

A wisdom tooth is a molar tooth. We call it the third molar because it is the third tooth of that type to erupt. In fact, it’s usually the last tooth that comes in (if it comes in!) and that can occur anytime between the ages of 17 and 30. Though for some people, the wisdom teeth do try to come in before age 17.

Most people need to have their wisdom teeth removed as a teen or young adult. A few lucky people don’t develop wisdom teeth at all! Why do we recommend having your wisdom teeth out?

Because they’re way in the back of your mouth, wisdom teeth usually have to fight to find enough “parking space” in the mouth. If your wisdom teeth do not have enough room to come in but try to anyway, they may tip sideways. If there’s no room for them at all, they may stay buried below your gum and bone. We call this an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts can form around impacted wisdom teeth and cause injury to surrounding jawbone or roots of teeth.

Even if there is not enough room for them, your wisdom teeth continue to grow and may collide with the teeth in front of them, causing damage to otherwise healthy teeth and bone.

If your wisdom tooth comes partway in, it creates an opening in the gum that can allow food, plaque and bacteria to enter. This may result in tooth decay or a gum infection both around your wisdom tooth and possibly on the tooth in front of it.

It’s also very hard to keep your wisdom teeth clean because they are so far back in the mouth. Cavities can start in hard to clean areas.

When wisdom teeth are removed, the fewest complications occur if it’s done between ages 16-19. So if you, or someone you know, is in this age range, and needs wisdom teeth removed, I’d urge you to do it sooner rather than later.

You can learn more about Wisdom Teeth by viewing the article Wisdom Teeth in the patient education section of my website, www.drjrobb.com

Dr. Jennifer Robb, 440-960-1940, is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. She does not remove wisdom teeth but can take the x-ray needed to evaluate them and recommend an oral surgeon for the removal. She is taking new patients. www.drjrobb.com , www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb