The third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to develop. The majority of people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed to avoid dental and orthodontic problems.
If you’re wondering when you or your child will get their wisdom teeth, or whether or not they will need to be extracted, this guide will help you know what to expect.
Average Age for Wisdom Tooth Eruption
Molars, the large teeth in the back of the jaw that are used for grinding food when chewing, come in at different stages of development. As the jaw grows and makes room, the molars erupt through the gum tissue. The first permanent molars, the 6 year molars, come in around the age of 6 or 7. The second molars, the 12 year molars, come in around age 11-13.
Wisdom teeth, the last molars, are typically fully developed and ready to come in between the ages of 17-25. Whether or not they come in properly, or if they come in at all, varies from one person to another.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Wisdom teeth are notorious for causing dental and orthodontic problems. As humans have evolved, there is less room in the jaw for these teeth to come in properly. More often than not they come in crooked or never come through the gum tissue at all. When there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth to come in properly, they are considered to be impacted.
Impacted wisdom teeth may come in at an angle and push against the second molars. This can cause damage to the second molars and also push the other teeth out of proper alignment.
Impacted wisdom teeth sometimes get stuck below the gums and never come in at all. This often means they are pushed up against the roots of the second molars, which can do serious damage to the root structure and threaten the health of those teeth.
When is the Best Time for Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Your dentist will monitor the development and eruption of your wisdom teeth through regular dental examinations and X-Rays. If the wisdom teeth appear to be a problem, such as if they begin to come in at an angle or are laying sideways under the gums, your dentist may recommend getting them removed.
If you experience pain in the back of your mouth or jaw, swollen gums around your molars, a tight feeling in your teeth, or any other unusual symptoms, it may be time for a dental exam to check on the status of your wisdom teeth. It is common for teens and young adults to get their wisdom teeth out between the ages of 17 and 25.
What Are the Risks of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth that are not removed can cause a variety of dental and orthodontic problems:
- Damage to other teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth can grind against your back molars and their roots, causing damage to the tooth and its support structures. The other teeth may also grind together due to the pressure from the wisdom teeth.
- Crowding of the teeth. As the wisdom teeth push on the back molars it can cause all of the teeth to crowd together, which leads to orthodontic problems.
- Higher risk of tooth decay. There is a higher risk of tooth decay because plaque and bacteria build up between the teeth that are shoved too closely together.
- Higher risk of gum disease. The bacteria in plaque that develops due to crowded teeth can infect the gum tissue, causing gum disease.
- Development of cysts. Wisdom teeth that are stuck below the gums can lead to the development of cysts, sacs of fluid that grow and can damage the jaw bone, teeth, and nerves. In rare cases cysts can become abnormal growths, like tumors (usually benign).
Why Choose Upper West Side Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery?
Impacted wisdom teeth are best addressed by an experienced oral surgeon. Upper West Side Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery specializes in wisdom teeth extraction, providing the appropriate type of anesthesia for each individual. We work around the busy schedules of teens and young adults to help you get your wisdom teeth out at a time that works for you.