Third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt and are the furthest teeth in the back of the mouth. Nearly 85% of American adults have their wisdom teeth surgically removed. Some people do not have wisdom teeth at all while others never see them erupt due to lack of space. Wisdom teeth without enough space to erupt are left wedged in the jaw or are only somewhat erupted.
Even if they do erupt without problem, few adults can reach far back enough to keep wisdom teeth properly cleaned to avoid cavities and gum disease. Due to the location of the wisdom teeth, it is also difficult to entirely remove decay caused by cavities. Because of the tooth’s location near the jaw-joint, it is difficult to see if all the decay has been removed or keep the tooth dry enough to retain a filling. Gum disease is challenging to treat around wisdom teeth which can cause bone loss, bad breath and can extend further into the mouth.
The most common ages for wisdom teeth to be extracted are between the ages of 18 and 24 when the roots are still not completely formed. Some patients have their wisdom teeth removed as young as between ages 7 and 17. This process, germectomy, is performed when the teeth roots are less than 1/3 formed.
If you or someone in your family is considering having their wisdom teeth extracted, give us a call to schedule a consultation.