You’ve heard of wisdom teeth. It’s likely you’ve heard a friend or family member remark, usually with some level of fear, about having to get them removed. While most people know the term, they don’t actually know what wisdom teeth are. Let’s look at these interesting relics of evolution – what wisdom teeth are and when you need to remove them.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the final molars that break through your gums, usually in your late teens or early twenties. How many you have – or if you even have them – depends on your ethnicity and genetic history. Most people have one to four wisdom teeth that usually break through the gum.
Anthropologists speculate that wisdom teeth are holdovers from earlier periods of human development when we needed the extra molars to grind up food. Changing diets and cooking reduced our reliance on them, but like the appendix and tailbone, they have not completely disappeared.
When Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
If you’re fortunate enough to have a large enough mouth for your wisdom teeth or only a few of them, you may never need to have your wisdom teeth removed at all. If the wisdom teeth break the gum even and straight, don’t overcrowd your mouth, and can be cleaned through normal brushing and flossing, you can keep them. They’ll function the same as any molars.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Dental professionals use the term “impacted” to refer to any tooth positioned abnormally in your mouth. Impacted wisdom teeth can present problems and should be removed as soon as possible. Some signs that indicate your wisdom teeth may be impacted include,
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing or mouthwash
- Pain at the back of your jaw around or behind your molars
- The inability to floss due to crowding teeth
- Painful or swollen gums towards the back of your mouth
- Puss or bleeding along the gums around the molars and back of your mouth
- The inability to chew along the molars without experiencing pain
- Swollen lymph-nodes below your jaw and/or low-grade fever
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms around the area of your wisdom teeth, it’s important to contact your dentist right away. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to infection, resulting in further tooth loss. Dental infections can spread to other parts of the body as well, so they’re important to treat immediately.
Are You Looking for a Dentist in Bucks County?
If you’re experiencing tooth pain or other signs of impacted wisdom teeth, contact us today to make an appointment. We will examine your teeth and determine the best course of action for your oral health.