Wisdom teeth, the last adult teeth to grow in the rear of the mouth, are notorious for inducing dread in people who don’t otherwise have dental anxiety. One of the most common questions patients ask is whether they need their wisdom teeth removed, even if they aren’t having any symptoms!
Ridgetop Dental in Sterling, VA provides high-quality dental care and patient education. Learn about wisdom teeth and whether you might need your wisdom teeth removed.
Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17-25, which is why they’re referred to as “wisdom” teeth. The saying goes that this is when people start leaving the home to search for wisdom, so that’s why the teeth are named for this period in life. Who knows?
They are clinically referred to as “third molars” because they are very similar to the first two sets of molars that develop in childhood and adolescence. You might remember a little bit of discomfort in middle school when your second set of molars was positioning itself. The process involved in the third set of molars is the same, but this time there’s less room for them to move around.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Dentists look for specific indicators that signal a possible need for removing wisdom teeth.
- Pericoronitis: When wisdom teeth begin erupting (coming out) of the gums, a flap of gum tissue can develop, which may trap leftover food particles and oral bacteria. This infection, called pericoronitis, irritates the surrounding gums, making the spot difficult to clean and can even occur in wisdom teeth that have not erupted yet.
- They become impacted: Many people see “impacted” and think “infection,” but this is not always true. When the wisdom teeth are blocked by teeth and are unable to erupt, they are referred to as impacted. While some patients experience pain or discomfort when this happens, many others don’t realize they have impacted wisdom teeth until a dentist finds it on an X-ray.
- The dentist suspects a risk of future problems: If your dentist determines there is a risk of future problems by leaving the wisdom teeth in, they may suggest extraction. Performing wisdom tooth extraction is easier on younger patients, so even if you haven’t experienced problems yet, your dentist may recommend removal to prevent a more difficult procedure in the future.
Conservative Wisdom Teeth Treatment
It’s important to know that not everyone with wisdom teeth will need them removed. Sometimes they erupt with no problems, or they can be managed without surgery. There are several factors to be considered, so it’s important to have regular dental check-ups, especially as a teen and young adult. Patients in the Sterling, VA area who want to learn more about wisdom teeth removal can schedule an appointment with Ridgetop Dental online or call us at (703) 520-7410.