The third molars are more commonly known as the infamous “wisdom teeth.” They got their name because they are the last adult teeth that “come in” or develop in the mouth. Wisdom teeth typically erupt during the mid to late teens, between ages 16 to 18. A person can potentially have up to four wisdom teeth total, one in each quadrant.
The treatment plan for wisdom teeth varies from patient to patient. For instance, some people live their entire lives without even being aware of their wisdom teeth. And in some cases, the wisdom teeth don’t develop at all! But for many people, if the wisdom teeth are not healthy or properly positioned, then they need to be altogether removed.
Wisdom teeth are typically not removed when they cleanly erupt through the gum line without negatively affecting any adjacent teeth. If the wisdom tooth only partially erupts through the gum, a soft tissue develops between the gum and the tooth where bacteria can potentially grow. In this particular instance, the wisdom tooth needs to be removed.
If wisdom teeth grow at an angle, they generally need to be removed. This commonly occurs when the third molars don’t have sufficient room to grow straight up through the gum line. As a result, they grow at an angle, moving under the adjacent tooth. This is the scenario that causes pain.
Dr. Garner will use an X-ray to determine the positioning of the tooth in question and the best approach for removing it. When wisdom teeth are extracted, they are typically cut out during an outpatient procedure.
The evidence that suggests that wisdom teeth need to be removed is pain, infection, cysts, tumors, damage to adjacent teeth, gum disease, and in some cases, tooth decay. Sometimes wisdom teeth removal is recommended to prevent future problems for the patient or as part of an orthodontic or periodontal treatment plan.
Wisdom teeth are often problematic at some point in a person’s life, so they should be monitored throughout life. As with everything else related to dentistry, the key to maintaining great oral health is to visit your dentist regularly that Dr. Garner might monitor the condition of your wisdom teeth.