The human mouth is, at least in most cases, designed for 28 teeth. However, almost everyone will grow a total of 32 adult teeth. So what happens when too many teeth grow into too little space? All too often, the answer is “nothing good.”
As a child, you grow 20 baby teeth to fill out your small head. After a few growth spirts, however, your jaws create a set of larger teeth meant to be permanent replacements as your head reaches its adult maximum. It also waits until your head is as big as it’s going to get before it introduces a final row of molars behind all the rest, adding four teeth in total. The reason they’re called “wisdom” teeth is because they arrive so late, an arrival which (hopefully) coincides with a certain amount of wisdom on the part of the young adult.
Unfortunately, unless you have a particularly large head or jaw, your wisdom teeth will likely cause some trouble when they erupt out of your gums. That last row of molars will demand a space for themselves even if there’s no space to spare, and so what often happens is they come in sideways and push against the rest of your teeth.
There are a number of conditions that wisdom teeth can cause, and none of them are pleasant. A wisdom tooth can over-erupt, which means that it sticks out too far past the rest of your teeth and can prevent them from making full contact when you clench your jaw. They can also get stuck halfway in the back of your jaw, creating an overlap in your gums which leaves a space for bacteria, infections, and cavities to spread. Worst of all, your wisdom teeth can impact the next molars back, which can grind down both teeth or else push your whole jawline out of alignment.
For these reasons, wisdom tooth removal is the most common kind of tooth extraction, especially among young dental patients. Not only will your jaw not miss them, in most cases it’s actually better off without them. Even if your jaw is big enough, your dentist may recommend removing them since it means one less source of cavities and tooth decay in the hardest-to-reach part of your mouth.
Fortunately, since wisdom tooth extraction is practically a rite of passage, it’s easy to locate dentists with the experience necessary to make the process as simple and painless as possible. For instance, if you happen to live around Thousand Oaks in Southern California, we at Community Dental Group would be happy to take a look at how your wisdom teeth are coming in and let you know if and when your wisdom teeth may need extracting. It’s not just a matter of comfort – it’s a matter of health.