Wisdom Teeth Coming In: What to Know
Wisdom teeth grow in the back of your mouth and are the last adult teeth to come in. In many cases, wisdom teeth have to compete for space. Pushing to go into an already crowded jaw can cause problems, both as the wisdom tooth comes in and later on. Dentists sometimes remove wisdom teeth to correct and prevent many of the difficulties these teeth cause.
Most people have four wisdom teeth, one on each side of the upper and lower jaws. Not everyone is born with wisdom teeth, though they are the most common congenitally missing teeth. Wisdom teeth usually appear in people ages 17 to 21. To prevent problems, dentists recommend that patients undergo an evaluation of their wisdom teeth between the ages of 16 and 19.
Wisdom teeth are molars, and like other molars, they have a flat, wide shape that makes them ideal for grinding food. Because the jaw may already be crowded by the time the wisdom teeth break through the gum or erupt, wisdom teeth can come in irregularly. They may press against the molars next to them, for example, or come in crooked or even sideways. Wisdom teeth can also come in halfway or just sit below the surface of the gum.
Teeth that come in crooked or erupt only part way can cause dental issues. Pressing against nearby molars can push those teeth out of alignment to change the way the teeth on your upper and lower jaws meet when you bite down. In these cases, wisdom teeth removal may be necessary.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are an extra set of molars, which are the teeth that grind your food into a pulp for optimal digestion. Having the extra set of teeth probably gave our ancestors extra chewing power and reduced excessive wear on their other molars. Still, their jaws were much larger than ours and could easily accommodate the extra teeth. Throughout time, our jaws have shrunk, leaving less room for wisdom teeth.
The First Signs Your Wisdom Teeth are Coming In
Some wisdom teeth come in without any problems at all – they simply push through the gum and sit comfortably alongside the other molars. In many cases, though, wisdom teeth cause a wide variety of uncomfortable or unpleasant effects as they come in. The first signs that a wisdom tooth is erupting include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tender gums
- Swelling around the jaw
- Jaw pain
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth
Wisdom Teeth Can Cause Pain
Wisdom teeth have a reputation for causing pain – and for a good reason. Impacted wisdom teeth, which are those that do not have enough room to emerge or develop normally, can cause a great deal of pain. The teeth can push against other teeth to cause pain; swelling around the impacted teeth can add to the discomfort.
A partial eruption can be just as bad when it comes to pain. In a partial eruption, the wisdom tooth emerges only part way, which leaves some of the gum tissue exposed and vulnerable to infection.
Non-cancerous tumors or cysts may form. The wisdom tooth develops in a sac within the jawbone. This sac can fill with fluid to form a cyst, which can damage the teeth, jawbone, and nerves. In rare cases, a non-cancerous tumor can develop; this complication may require the removal of gum tissue and bone.
Can you avoid problems with wisdom teeth?
Other than keeping up with your oral hygiene to prevent infection and going to your dentist regularly, there is very little you can do to avoid problems with wisdom teeth. Your dentist can help you determine if your wisdom teeth will come in without problems or if you need wisdom teeth removal.
When Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Come Out?
When you have a wisdom tooth coming in, it can be tough to know when it needs to come out. Your dentist may recommend having a wisdom tooth removed if:
- The tooth is coming in sideways
- There is a lack of space
- There are signs of impaction
- It is coming in only part way
Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to
their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Contact Williams, Daily & Frazier at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.