Wisdom teeth are normally the last teeth to appear. This usually happens when
people are in their late teen years or early twenties -- in other words, when
they are older and wiser.
Wisdom teeth are molars, or chewing teeth, at the back of the mouth. The
third set of molars, if you have them, are your wisdom teeth.
They can grow into place normally and never cause a problem. But often there
is not enough room for them in the mouth. They might crowd other teeth.
Sometimes they even push sideways through the gums.
An impacted wisdom tooth is one that fails to completely rise through the
gums -- the term is erupt. Wisdom teeth that only partially erupt can leave
space for bacteria to enter around the tooth. Infection is a risk in these cases.
Wisdom teeth that are not well aligned and become impacted are often removed.
dentist in Chicago works on the teeth of one of her patients
People should have the placement of their wisdom teeth examined between the
ages of sixteen and twenty. X-rays can show wisdom teeth that are below the gums.
The American Dental Association says removal is generally advised when wisdom
teeth only partly break through the gums. Removal is also advised if there is a
chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth will damage other teeth. And removal is
called for in cases where fluid collects around a wisdom tooth that is partly or
fully below the gum.
But why do we have wisdom teeth if we often need to get them removed? One
theory has to do with our diets. Scientists say the diet of prehistoric humans
probably required more chewing teeth. Life was probably a little rougher on the
teeth back then, too. So it was good to have extras.
The removal of wisdom teeth is performed by oral surgeons. They say if
removal is advised, the best time to do it is before the teeth cause any
problems or pain.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons says young adults
are the best candidates for wisdom teeth removal. The group says older patients
may be at greater risk for disease in the tissue surrounding the molars.
Patients can have general anesthesia during the operation. Or they might
choose to have a local painkiller and remain awake. It may depend on the
condition of the wisdom teeth and the number to be removed.
After surgery, there can be swelling of the gums and face and some pain. Both
can be treated with cold wraps and medication.
And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I’m