Space: The Trouble With Wisdom Teeth

  • August 5, 2016

You love your brother-in-law. He’s a good guy with a generous heart.

He offered to give you his old lawnmower. Before you could explain that you appreciated the offer, but — he announced that he would drop it off as soon as he could and then hung up.

One’s things for certain, he wasn’t lying. When you got home, you discovered that he just shoved the machine in with the rest of your stuff, and now you can’t park your car in the garage.

The thing is, you don’t really need the lawnmower. You’ve got one that works fine, and it’s not that old. The new one is taking up space that you were already using for something else.

If you have made it this far, you may be wondering what on earth this could possibly have to do with dentistry? We’ll tell you. It’s a metaphor for your wisdom teeth, and it’s a problem we help our patients handle regularly at Forever Young Dentistry in Sterling Heights, MI.

A Problem Of Space

Wisdom teeth, like the old lawnmower from your brother-in-law, aren’t really something you need.

Many times, in fact, most of the time, most people don’t have room for their wisdom teeth to fit. And yet, your wisdom teeth with try to push their way into your mouth, like your brother-in-law cramming the lawnmower in your already packed garage.

Experts estimate that 80 percent (give or take a few percentage points) should have their wisdom teeth removed. The main reason is that most of us simply do not have jaws that are large enough to accommodate this final set of molars.

Anthropologists have studied the skulls of our human ancestors, and one of the things they have discovered is that we have smaller jaws (on average) than our ancestors.

Most people’s wisdom teeth start to develop in their late teens or early 20s. If you or your children are like most people, then you don’t really have room for these teeth to fit.

That won’t stop them from trying to erupt, however.

Impacted Teeth

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones. Maybe your jaw is a little larger and your wisdom teeth can slide in behind your second set of molars in the back of your mouth.

For the rest of us — meaning, the majority of us — wisdom teeth will keep trying to push their way into position even when there is no position for them to fill.

This can result in teeth that are partially or completely impacted.

A partially impacted tooth has broken the surface of your gumline, but it unable to erupt correctly. A completely impacted tooth exists, but it does not break the surface of your gums.

These kinds of teeth generally are not lined up vertically parallel to your existing teeth. As a result, they may be growing at unfortunate angles to your other teeth.

A common problem is that impacted teeth are pushing into your other teeth. In addition to causing new alignment, problems, this can be painful for you.

Impacted teeth also can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Flaps of gum tissue that partially cover teeth can be more susceptible to infections.

If food gets caught under these flaps, it could lead to a condition called pericoronitis. This can lead to infections and inflammation of your gum tissue, a bad taste in your mouth, and a swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck.

Preventing Problems

Thankfully, many of these problems can be prevented through routine examinations at our dentist office in Sterling Heights, MI.

As part of your regular dental care, we will clean your teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup. While you are with us, we often take X-rays as well. This allows us to see if your wisdom teeth are starting to develop or if to identify potential problems early.

When it’s apparent that your wisdom teeth are going to be more trouble than they are worth, we will recommend have them removed.

Depending on the specifics of your situation, we may be able to perform your wisdom teeth extraction in our office. In complicated cases, we will refer you a specialist to ensure your procedure is done as safely and effectively as possible.

Schedule Your Appointment Soon

Routine dental care is an effective way to prevent long-term oral health issues, including problems with your wisdom teeth. If you have not yet scheduled your next cleaning and examination, contact our office today if you live in or near Sterling Heights, MI.

You can reach Forever Young Dentistry by filling out our online form or by calling our office at 586-698-7135.