Wisdom teeth are the third set of permanent molars. Ideally, they start coming into your mouth in the late teens to early 20s; however, in some people it takes longer for these teeth to appear and in some cases may never come in at all.
This blog will explain why it takes so long for wisdom teeth to erupt, the problems that may prevent these teeth from coming in, and patients’ choices regarding dealing with these teeth and their possible impacts on dental health.
Why Wisdom Teeth Come In Late
The process for wisdom teeth to develop can be lengthy. Sometimes, a wisdom tooth will appear and partially erupt but remain partially covered by bone or gum tissue. This incomplete eruption, or “partial impaction,” can lead to infections as such wisdom teeth are difficult to clean.
Not everyone has four wisdom teeth. Depending upon ethnicity, anywhere from 10 to 45 percent of a particular population of people may be missing one or more wisdom teeth.
Problems that Prevent Wisdom Teeth from Erupting
Many people don’t have space in the back of their mouths for wisdom teeth to erupt normally. Because of this, a wisdom tooth may be partially or completely impacted. An impacted tooth cannot emerge from the gums due to either improper positioning or due to teeth crowding. For example, some patients' wisdom teeth tip onto their sides, making natural eruption impossible.
Solutions to Deal With Wisdom Teeth
Dentists provide several options for patients regarding their wisdom teeth. These possible solutions include:
Letting Wisdom Teeth Naturally Erupt
If someone has enough room in their mouth, and their wisdom teeth are not impacted, they can safely allow their wisdom teeth to erupt independently.
Leaving Unerupted Wisdom Teeth Alone
Depending upon the age of the patient and the position of their wisdom teeth within the jaws, sometimes dentists recommend that patients leave their wisdom teeth alone, even if they have not erupted. Some wisdom teeth do not cause problems when left alone.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Many patients choose to have their wisdom teeth removed preventatively to protect against future problems. Others prefer to wait until their wisdom teeth show signs of causing trouble.
Problems that wisdom teeth can cause include: pain, infection, cavities, and gum disease. Impacted teeth are more prone to these and other problems, such as formation of cysts or tumors.
Wisdom Teeth Surgery
Getting wisdom teeth removed is generally a routine process. It becomes more complicated when wisdom teeth have fully formed or if the patient is 25 years of age or older. Impacted or infected wisdom teeth also present additional surgical considerations.
If a patient chooses to remove their wisdom teeth on a preventive basis, oral surgeons recommend having the procedure done early. Patients with wisdom teeth that only have partial root development have the fewest complications and the easiest time recovering. This tends to be when wisdom teeth are removed between the ages of 16 to 18 years of age.
If patients wait until their late 20s–or anytime in their 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s–to have their wisdom teeth removed, the wisdom teeth have often only become more impacted and require more complex surgery. Older patients are also more prone to post-operative pain, swelling, bruising, and other recovery complications.
Call Manchester Oral Surgery
Dr. Abel at Manchester Oral Surgery can fully explain your wisdom teeth options and help you decide which course of action is best for you.
If your wisdom teeth come in healthy, no treatment is needed, but in many cases some intervention is necessary. Call our office at 603-622-9441 for more information or to set up a consultation.