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Wisdom teeth earned their nickname because they come in just as you are maturing into adulthood at the age when people generally become “wiser.” They became known as the “teeth of wisdom” in the 17th Century, and by the 19th Century became known as “wisdom teeth.” Research has shown that the brain continues to develop through your twenties. In fact, the decision-making, or rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. The emergence of our wisdom teeth really does coincide with the development of our own wisdom!

What Are They?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars coming after all your other teeth have emerged. By the time you were six the first molars erupted in your mouth and the second molars came in around age twelve. Wisdom teeth show up when you are anywhere from 17-21 years old. They don’t always erupt through the gums though, sometimes they will sit under the gums and not cause problems, other times, they may be impacted and cause issues.

Risks associated with keeping wisdom teeth include:

–cysts
–misalignment
–gum disease
–infection
–damage to nearby teeth they are touching

To Keep or Not to Keep

Because they are hard to reach, they are difficult to brush and floss because of their location in the back of the mouth. This surrounds them with harmful, plaque-causing bacteria that can result in tooth decay and gum disease. A partially erupted wisdom tooth may result in pericoronitis—an infection where bacteria from food, plaque and debris is trapped in the space between impacted tooth and the gums.

Misalignment happens when wisdom teeth crowd the surrounding teeth, jawbone or nerves. This can result in pain and discomfort, and your dentist may recommend their removal to prevent further issues. It is advisable to have them removed when the bone is not as dense and the roots of the wisdom tooth are not yet fully developed, rather than waiting until later in life. If you have any questions or concerns, our caring team at Sweeney Utterback Dentistry can be reached at 757.222.3737 today!