Wisdom Teeth | What Are They And Why Do You Have Them

Having your wisdom teeth removed is a common dental procedure. In fact, over five million people have their wisdom teeth removed each year. Here's what you need to know about your wisdom teeth, if you have them, why you have them, and what to do if they hurt.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Your wisdom teeth, sometimes called your third molars, are the last teeth you get. Usually, you will have four wisdom teeth in the very back of your mouth, two on each side. However, it is important to note that not everyone gets their wisdom teeth. For some, their wisdom teeth may be visible on an x-ray but never erupt. While for others, they simply do not exist.

Alternatively, you may have just one or two wisdom teeth instead of all four, which may be hereditary. In other words, if one or both of your parents had less than four wisdom teeth, you will likely have the same.

Your ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind down tough plants and roots for food. However, you no longer need them since you eat softer foods that you can easily chew with your other molars and incisors.

Do You Need To Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The answer is that it depends. Most people simply do not have enough room in their mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth. If your wisdom teeth have started to erupt or have come in completely, your dentist will likely wait and see what happens. If they are painful, they will recommend removing your wisdom teeth. Some people, however, experience no pain caused by their wisdom teeth.

Another concern with wisdom teeth is shifting. As wisdom teeth emerge, they can force your other teeth out of position, causing you to have misaligned teeth or a misaligned bite. You may need braces or other corrective measures from an orthodontist to correct the problem.

Additionally, wisdom teeth become impacted, meaning they cannot emerge from the gum line because there is not enough room. In other words, the teeth are stuck. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain and discomfort, damage other teeth, and lead to infection if left untreated. Therefore, it's important to get wisdom teeth removed before problems occur.

Wisdom tooth removal is a common dental procedure many people undergo at some point in their lives. It can help you avoid pain, shifting teeth, and infection. If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, you should talk to your dentist.