Your third molars—more often referred to as “wisdom teeth”—are a set of four molars that appear in your mouth sometime around your teenage years, and they’re called wisdom teeth because they appear much later in your development than your permanent teeth that grow in the place of your primary (baby) teeth. These teeth served a useful function for our ancestors, whose diets consisted of coarse, rough leaves, roots, nuts, and meat that would quickly wear down teeth. However, today that evolutionary answer is one without a true problem, since our current diets are nothing like those of our early ancestors, and unfortunately for many people, wisdom teeth cause more problems than they solve. In those cases often the best option is to have those teeth removed before they can cause difficulties for your other teeth, mouth, and jaw.

Common Problems with Wisdom Teeth

Perhaps the most common reason that a Meridian dentist will recommend you have one or more wisdom teeth removed is to prevent the need for future orthodontic work. Since these teeth come in much later than other teeth, and our mouths have evolved to become smaller than those of our ancestors, which means that by the time these teeth start to come in, other teeth have already found their place. In many cases we’ve already had orthodontic work to make sure the other teeth are straight, and wisdom teeth bring the risk of causing other teeth to move around. For others the risk might be infection-related, since wisdom teeth might have a small flap of gum still attached where food could get stuck, while still others might be at risk for teeth that don’t erupt properly from the gums because there is a bone or other teeth blocking them, or because they’re not properly lined up under the gum—a condition called “impacted” wisdom teeth.

The Best Time for Removal

There is no set age or time when a person must have their wisdom teeth out (and indeed some people either never experience any problems or they are born without wisdom teeth), but as a general rule it’s a good idea to have regular dental visits during your later teenage years and early 20s, since this is the time your dentist in Meridian can see what is likely to happen with third molars and make a recommendation on whether or not they should be removed. Even in situations where your wisdom teeth are not actually causing any problems or pain, there might still be good reason to take them out—primarily when the dentist believes there is a risk for infection, or crowding or damage to other teeth. If you are worried about your wisdom teeth, they are causing pain, or you’re concerned that they might cause damage to other teeth, talk to a dentist today about wisdom teeth removal in Meridian.

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