Third molars, also known as wisdom teeth begin to develop during the early teen years and are usually recommended for removal between the ages of 13 and 21. Third molars usually begin to erupt in to the dental arch during the later teenage years and early adulthood, gaining the nickname “wisdom teeth”. They are the last of the thirty-two teeth to erupt.
Most people’s jaw bones are not large enough to accommodate this third set of molars, which can pose a number of problems that usually require removal of the wisdom teeth. Some of the problems that can be caused by wisdom teeth are listed below.
Impacted wisdom teeth occur when the jaw bone is not large enough to accommodate the eruption of the teeth. The wisdom teeth become malpositioned and remain “impacted” below the bone and gum tissue. The roots of the teeth continue to grow and the teeth attempt to erupt, often creating pressure on the back of the second molars. This can cause dental crowding, cyst formation or partial eruption which results in pain and infection (pericoronitis). Impacted wisdom teeth are usually recommended for removal because these problems can cause serious damage to the adjacent teeth and jaw bone.
Dental caries, or tooth decay is the most common problem associated with third molars which have managed to erupt into the dental arch. These teeth are located out of easy reach for a toothbrush or floss. Because they are so difficult to keep clean, the often decay or contribute to decay of adjacent teeth. Removal of these third molars makes dental hygiene more manageable and aids in the maintenance of healthy gum tissue, reducing the risk of periodontal disease in the molar area.