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Why do you have wisdom teeth, and what is their function? Are they even necessary to the functioning of your mouth? Read on to find out the answer to these questions!

Historical Perspective

Wisdom teeth earned their nickname because they come in just as you are maturing into adulthood at the age when people generally become “wiser.” They became known as the “teeth of wisdom” in the 17th Century, and by the 19th Century became known as “wisdom teeth.” Interestingly enough, research shows that the brain continues to develop through your twenties. In fact, the decision-making, or rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. We really are wiser by the time these pearly whites come in.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Of all your teeth, your wisdom teeth are the last to emerge as they erupt through the gums. They are the third and final set of molars coming after all your other teeth have debuted—the incisors, canines, premolars and molars. By the time you were six the first molars erupted in your mouth and the second molars came in around age twelve. Wisdom teeth generally show up when you are anywhere from 17-21 years old. They don’t always erupt through the gums though, sometimes they will sit under the gums and not cause problems, other times, they may be sideways or impacted, causing problems for your surrounding teeth, your gums, or your bite.

To Keep or Not to Keep?

They are difficult to brush and floss because of their location in the back of the mouth. As they can be a haven for harmful, plaque-causing bacteria this can result in tooth decay and gum disease. Not only that, but a partially erupted wisdom tooth may result in pericoronitis—an infection where bacteria from food, plaque and debris becomes trapped in the space between impacted tooth and the gums. Misalignment can occur when wisdom teeth crowd surrounding teeth, jawbone or nerves. This can result in pain and discomfort, and your dentist may recommend their removal to prevent further issues.

Risks Associated With Wisdom Teeth:

–cysts
–infection
–gum disease
–misalignment
–damage to nearby teeth they are touching

Your dentist will take X-rays to help determine if your wisdom need removing. If so, it is advisable to have them removed when the bone is not as dense and the roots of the wisdom tooth are not yet fully developed, rather than waiting until later in life. If you have any questions or concerns, our caring team at Monon Family Dental can help you at 317-846-6188.