Wisdom Teeth FAQ

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Wisdom Teeth FAQ

At Great Plains OMS, we get a lot of questions about wisdom teeth! Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions:

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth developed because of our ancient ancestor's early diet of rough, uncooked items like leaves, nuts, roots and meats. But human jaws have become smaller through our evolutionary history, and the rise of agriculture gave us foods that were easier to chew. Because of these changes, wisdom teeth are now classified as "vestigial", meaning they have become functionless as humans have evolved.

When Do Wisdom Teeth Emerge?

Wisdom teeth usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 25, a period referred to as the "Age of Wisdom," which gave them their name. They are technically referred to as "third molars," and are the last teeth to emerge, growing in the very back of the jaw behind your other molars.

How Do Wisdom Teeth Become Impacted?

A wisdom tooth is impacted if it does not fully erupt into the mouth. This is sometimes caused by blockage from other teeth, or from coming in crooked or tilted in the jaw.

Impacted teeth are sometimes painless. But if they are pushing on a neighboring molar they can cause painful pressure and lead to cavities, cysts, or even gum disease. If the wisdom tooth is only partially erupted it can cause the flap of gum above it to become infected and swollen, causing pain and discomfort.

Why Remove Wisdom Teeth?

If the wisdom tooth is impacted and causing pain, it definitely needs to be removed. But what if your wisdom teeth aren't causing any initial pain or discomfort? Jaw bones harden as you age which may make removal of wisdom teeth and recovery time more challenging. In addition, because wisdom teeth can be hard to keep clean, some patients may experience cavities or gum disease.

Make sure to schedule regular check-ups with your dentist so that they can track the growth of your wisdom teeth with x-rays and monitor your oral health. If your wisdom teeth need to be removed, contact Great Plains Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule an appointment. We’ll help you understand your treatment options and answer all your questions.

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