Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars. They are the furthest back teeth in the dental arch. Though they may not develop in some people, most commonly wisdom teeth begin to emerge in the later teen years.
For some patients, wisdom teeth emerge properly aligned. If the jaw can accommodate the third molar, there may be no need for extraction. However, wisdom teeth can come through in the wrong position. The result? A lot of oral problems.
Improperly aligned wisdom teeth can:
- Make it difficult to brush and floss
- Crowd and damage adjacent teeth
- Leave pockets where food can become trapped and bacteria can begin to grow
- Cause jaw pain
A wisdom tooth that does not break the surface of the gum is called fully impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth can negatively affect neighboring teeth by putting pressure on the roots. These impacted teeth are also vulnerable to cysts forming which can lead to infection.
A partially impacted wisdom tooth is one that just breaks the gum line and only a portion of the crown is visible. A tooth that does not completely emerge is generally at an increased risk of tooth decay. This is likely due to the difficulty in brushing and flossing.
Your dentist can monitor the development of wisdom teeth and recommend options for patients to maintain good oral health.