Did you know that the majority of the world’s population grow some or all four of their wisdom teeth by adulthood? If you’re wondering whether you need your wisdom teeth extracted, you might even be asking yourself why we even have wisdom teeth in the first place!

Many scientists believe that wisdom teeth were once useful among ancient humans to help eat rough foods like raw meat and vegetables. However, these teeth are no longer of use to us anymore. Our jaws are a lot smaller than those of our ancient ancestors, and that means when your wisdom teeth grow in, they can crowd your mouth, making problems for the future.

Sitting at the very back of your mouth, your wisdom teeth are the third molars. When they have fully grown in, are positioned correctly with their opposing teeth, and can be cleaned properly, they are less likely to need extraction. However, when they don’t grow properly, you may need to get them removed.

What happens when your wisdom teeth don’t grow properly?

When your wisdom teeth don’t erupt properly from the gums, they can cause problems. Erupting wisdom teeth can grow at various angles in the jaw, sometimes even horizontally! This can cause a lot of pain, difficulties cleaning, and sometimes lead to infections.

Wisdom teeth that most likely need to be extracted include:

  • Teeth that remain completely hidden beneath the gums. If the wisdom teeth don’t emerge normally, they become trapped (impacted) within your jaw. This can lead to infections or cysts.
  • Teeth that only partially emerge through the gums. These teeth are harder to see and clean. When this happens, they create a passageway for bacteria to enter beneath the gums to cause disease and infections.
  • Teeth that crowd nearby teeth. When your wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to emerge fully, they may crowd or damage the teeth next to them.

What are the signs I may need my wisdom teeth removed?

Signs you should lookout for include:

  • Pain
  • Repeated infection of the tissue and gums behind the tooth
  • Fluid-filled sacs (cysts)
  • Damage to nearby teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities or tooth decay

Do you need to get your wisdom teeth removed? If you suspect you need a wisdom tooth extraction, the number one thing you should do first is speak with your dentist. The team at Litchfield Dental Associates will assess the health and position of your wisdom teeth and decide what’s best for you. Call us today to discuss treatment options!