The oral cavity in humans contains 32 permanent teeth. These teeth grow from 6 to 12 years of age. The wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to erupt, and they grow at the age of 17 to 21 years of age.
The wisdom teeth make up the posterior-most segment of the mouth. They are present behind the second molars. There are 4 wisdom teeth – 2 in the upper jaw and 2 in the lower jaw.
Sometimes the jaw is small in size and teeth are large. In such cases, due to the lesser space available, the third molar may not erupt completely. The angulation at which the third molars erupt depends on the amount of space available in the alveolar bone. This incomplete eruption is also known as impaction.
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Wisdom teeth complications
The eruption of teeth in the wrong direction may lead to various problems. Problems may be in the form of tooth impaction, tooth infection and may also lead to cysts. Such teeth need to be extracted. Some complications caused by third molars include:
1) Tooth Decay
Incorrectly erupted third molars are difficult to keep clean. Because of their abnormal relation to the remaining teeth, there are more chances of food accumulation, causing bacterial growth. These bacteria attack the third molar as well as the adjacent teeth. Decayed third molars should be extracted to avoid adjacent healthy teeth from getting infected.
When there is insufficient space available, the third molar creates space for eruption by pushing the remaining teeth. This causes overlap and crowding of teeth. Correction of overlap and crowding through orthodontic treatment needs extraction of third molars.
3) Hidden inside the bone and gums
Sometimes, the wisdom teeth lie embedded in the alveolar bone and do not erupt. Such teeth are more prone to infection and may cause the formation of cysts and tumors. Such teeth need to be extracted.
The third molars are present very posteriorly, making them nearly inaccessible for cleaning. Their incomplete eruption makes hygiene maintenance difficult. The inability to maintain a healthy oral environment increases the chance of the third molar decay.
Signs & Symptoms suggesting Wisdom Teeth Removal
Here are some indications which help us know if we need to get the third molars out of the mouth:
Decay of the adjacent teeth
Difficulty in mouth opening and swallowing
Repetitive infection of the surrounding soft tissue
However, third molars need not always be extracted. Some wisdom teeth erupt without causing any issues. They need not be removed if:
Completely erupted third molars occupying the correct position need not be removed.
These teeth are easily accessible for cleaning and there are fewer chances of them getting infected.
Healthy third molars pose no problems and need not be extracted.
Third molars erupting completely in the right position and maintaining proper relation with the opposing third molar should not be extracted.
The third molars are a part of the human body, as are the remaining 28 teeth. The extent and direction of growth help determine if the third molar needs extraction or not. It is essential to visit your dentist to identify if your wisdom teeth are growing and could potentially cause painful symptoms or more severe problems. An oral surgeon should be consulted to address concerns regarding third molars and to know if wisdom teeth extraction is a good option if you haven’t removed them.