What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, officially referred to as third molars, are usually the last teeth to develop. They are located in the very back of your mouth, next to your second (or twelve year) molars and near the entrance to your throat. Third molars are usually completely developed between the ages of 15 and 18, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and the attainment of “wisdom.” But wisdom teeth are not really so wise. They often become impacted or trapped in the jaw bone and gums and fail to erupt as straight and fully functioning teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth nearly always have to be removed if they start causing problems.

By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth in the upper jaw and 16 teeth in the lower jaw. Unfortunately, the average adult mouth is only large enough to accommodate 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth.

Why Do We Even Have Wisdom Teeth?

Anthropologists theorize that back in the “cave days” our diet was much coarser than it is today. Also, there were not any dentists around to help us keep and maintain our teeth, and finally, there was not any fluoride in the water. So by the time we reached our late “cave teens”, we most likely had already lost several of our teeth due to trauma or decay. With the loss of adjacent teeth, the third molars now had space to erupt into our mouths, and therefore actually served a purpose – to replace lost teeth and help us chew better.

In modern times we have great general dentists to help us keep our teeth, a softer diet, and fluoride in our water. So we tend to keep most, if not all, of our teeth. Therefore, wisdom teeth commonly do not have enough room to erupt fully into our mouths. Even if the wisdom teeth do fully erupt, their posterior location makes it extremely difficult to keep them clean and healthy over the course of a lifetime. Removing wisdom teeth later on in life is much more difficult, the recovery period is longer and less predictable, and most importantly, wisdom tooth removal later in life is associated with increased risks and complications.

Learn more when you visit Sunnyvale Dental Care. Call Sunnyvale Dentist Dr. Nasser Antonious at 408-720-0900/ TOLL-FREE 1-877-9DENTAL to schedule a consultation today!

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