Wisdom teeth are the final adult teeth to grow in, usually between ages 17 and 25. They also are referred to as the third set of molars and are found in the very back of your mouth. Unfortunately, many people’s wisdom teeth do not grow in properly and become trapped underneath the gum tissue (called impacted). When this happens, food can become trapped, causing the tooth to decay and possibly affecting the health of neighboring teeth. In addition, a twisted or sideways wisdom tooth can cause pain and increase the risk of infection.
When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed by your dentist. However, this is a decision that requires careful consideration of your oral and general health. The best way to evaluate your wisdom teeth is to have an oral examination and x-rays with your dentist. This will allow your dentist to see if there is enough room for your wisdom teeth to come in or if they are impacted.
Wisdom teeth were necessary for our ancestors, who needed to chew tougher foods like raw meat and roots. But now, with better dental care and a diet that consists of softer foods, wisdom teeth are considered vestigial organs, or parts of the body that no longer serve a purpose. As a result, they often need to be removed. While this is a difficult process, it can be much less painful when it is done before the molars grow in and cause problems.