Get wise about wisdom teeth.

What are Wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are our third set of molars. Most people are born with 4 wisdom teeth, and they typically grow when we are between the ages of 16 and 25.

Do we need wisdom teeth?

Over time, our jaws as human beings have become smaller. Our diets are no longer solely carnivorous, and we tend to preserve our teeth more, by brushing, flossing and seeing our dentist every six months. As such, there is no longer such a functional need for the wisdom teeth.

Will my wisdom teeth cause problems?

For some people, they can be quite problematic. People often don’t have enough room in the jaw to fully accommodate them, so wisdom teeth can be awkwardly positioned and/or grow in at problematic angles. They then can crowd or damage other teeth, affect nearby nerves, cause eruption problems for adjacent teeth or may be very difficult to clean.

Due to their location, dentists can find it difficult to treat wisdom teeth, should problems occur. Symptoms such as pain, swelling, gum loss and bone loss around nearby teeth can often start to develop.

On the other hand, some people may not be aware that they have wisdom teeth because they haven’t grown or aren’t causing noticeable symptoms.

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?

If and when wisdom teeth should be removed is not always clear-cut. Some dentists or oral surgeons recommend waiting until problems occur; others advocate removing wisdom teeth to prevent potential problems. Surgical removal should be considered when there are:

Infections and/or periodontal (gum) disease
Cavities that can’t be restored
Cysts, tumours or other pathologies
Damage to neighbouring teeth

What do we recommend?

Routine dental exams, including x-rays, are important for good dental health.

It is also important for patients to have an OPG, which is a whole mouth X-ray, to determine if you have wisdom teeth, what position they are in and whether removal is necessary.