What About Those Wisdom Teeth?

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Your smile depends on the health of your teeth and gums. The first to be seen, they can reflect the state of your oral health. But not all your teeth are visible at first glance. The teeth in the back are vital for your good health, even though they are not visible, especially your “wisdom teeth”.

Wisdom teeth are the last to develop in your mouth. These final set of molars to arrive show up after your incisors, canines, premolars and molars have made their debut. By the time you are six, the first molars erupt in your mouth, and the second molars erupt around age 12. Wisdom teeth generally come in between the ages of 17-21 and are located behind the molars.

Nicknamed wisdom teeth, these come in just as you are maturing into adulthood (in your late teens or early twenties) at the age when people generally become “wiser.” Known as the “teeth of wisdom” in the 17th Century, they have been called “wisdom teeth” since the 19th Century. Research shows that the brain continues to develop through your twenties. The decision-making, or rational part of your brain–the prefrontal cortex–isn’t fully developed until age 25, so the term really is appropriate!

Not everyone develops problems with their wisdom teeth, so they can possibly be left alone without removing. But often this isn’t the case. Sitting so far back, they can be hard to clean, making brushing and flossing difficult. This can make them more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease as they can be a haven for bacteria. In the case of a partially erupted wisdom tooth, it may be susceptible to an infection called pericoronitis–where bacteria from food, plaque and debris is trapped in the space between the impacted tooth and the gums.

Another common problem with wisdom teeth is misalignment, which can occur because of the location of the wisdom teeth which crowd surrounding teeth, as well as the jawbone or nerves. Because of this, and their potential to cause pain and infection, your dentist may recommend removal.

The earlier wisdom teeth are removed, the better, as the bone is not as dense and the roots not yet fully developed when you are younger. Having your wisdom teeth removed when you are older can risk damaging the inferior alveolar nerve, which is a major nerve situated near the lower jawbone, or mandible. Your dentist will take X-rays to help decide if your wisdom teeth need removal. If you have any questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, consult with your dentist to maintain your healthy smile.

You can reach our dental team at Musso Family Dentistry today at 972-840-8477. We are here to help you keep your smile healthy!

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