Wisdom teeth are the late bloomers in your mouth’s development. They tend to appear between the age of 17-21 (when you’re wiser) and sometimes need to be removed. Ironically, you might not have a lot of wisdom about your wisdom teeth. Many people wonder what they are, if theirs need to be removed and how they’ll know. We’ll clear things up with this beginner’s guide to wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are a pair of molars—your third set to be precise. Your first molars appear at around 6 or 7 years of age, followed by your second set at around 12-13 years of age. When you’re older, your third set of molars, and your final adult teeth, come through.
Signs your wisdom teeth have appeared
Healthy wisdom teeth are there to help you chew and although you might feel a little discomfort at first, some people don’t even notice they’ve come through. Sometimes wisdom teeth come through in the wrong position, or don’t have enough space (also known as impacted) and this can have a few roll-on effects for the rest of your mouth.Impacted wisdom teeth can cause overcrowding, making it more difficult to clean between your teeth and causing plaque to build-up. When plaque is left unchecked it can lead to things like decay, bad breath and gum disease. Sometimes the pressure of impacted wisdom teeth can also cause cysts to form, damaging the bones and roots of neighboring teeth. Although impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause pain, you might notice jaw pain, red or swollen gums, or have difficult opening your mouth.
When to remove your wisdom teeth
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to removing wisdom teeth. It generally comes down to what’s best for you and your oral health. As your wisdom teeth come through, your dentist will check whether they’re growing in the correct position and the effect they’re having on the rest of your mouth.
Your dentist will consider removing your wisdom teeth if they are causing:
- Damage to neighboring teeth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
One final note on removing wisdom teeth. Sometimes wisdom teeth are also removed as a preventative measure. So even if there aren’t any visible signs of damage, your dentist might still recommend removing them to avoid trouble in the future.
Monitoring your wisdom teeth
Regular check-ups are a chance for your dentist to keep an eye on any remaining wisdom teeth and make sure there are no signs of damage or decay. In between visits, you can look after them by making sure you clean between your teeth every day and brush for at least two minutes, twice daily.
Here’s to becoming wiser.
We put together this article to help you better understand your oral health. It’s not intended as a replacement for professional advice. If you have any additional questions, it’s best to check in with your dentist or another oral healthcare professional. They’ll be able to give you more detailed guidance, or diagnose and treat you.
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