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Some wisdom about wisdom teeth

At about age 6 we get our first set of molars. This is followed by the appearance of our second molars around age 12. And then come the wisdom teeth, which make their (usually) painful debut between the ages of 17 and 21, or the “age of wisdom.”  For most people, wisdom teeth can be the cause of some big problems and it’s best to get them removed.

Not all wisdom teeth fully ‘erupt’ meaning that they don’t fully emerge into their expected position. Sometimes they remain fully impacted (not broken through the gum tissue at all) and other times they are partially impacted (part of the tooth has broken through the gum tissue). However, even if your wisdom teeth grow fully and comfortably into place without disrupting other teeth, they may need to be removed due to things like interfering with bite, interfering with surrounding teeth repairs, severe decay or risk of periodontal disease.

Symptoms of wisdom tooth growth include pain and facial swelling, a bad taste in the mouth and swelling of the gums at the back of the mouth. There are a number of different reasons why it can be a good idea to have your wisdom teeth removed. These include:

  • Frequent plaque and bacteria buildup due to their position in the mouth
  • Tooth decay (and in severe cases bone loss) due to an awkward position against neighboring teeth
  • Swollen, tender and red gums due to debris and food being caught under gum tissue that covers the tooth
  • Forward, backward or side-facing growth of the tooth into the jaw
  • Development of a cyst due to the sac around the tooth filling with fluid. If not caught and treated quickly, the growth of a cyst can hollow out the jaw and cause permanent damage to surrounding teeth, nerves and bone.

It’s a good idea to consult with your dentist about you or you family member’s wisdom teeth and come up with an appropriate plan since all cases are different. If you have any questions or concerns or would like more information on this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Marlborough Dental!

Image courtesy of digitalart /

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