Third molars (also known as wisdom teeth) are the four teeth located furthest back in the mouth, and are the last to develop, usually beginning around age 16. Keep in mind the age for wisdom teeth development can vary greatly; some people don’t develop wisdom teeth at all, and some develop more than four!
Whether your teeth are currently causing an issue or not, your dentist may recommend you get them extracted. Wisdom teeth can be monitored by your dentist using a panorex x-ray. This x-ray identifies presence, alignment and orientation of the wisdom teeth.
There are several reasons a dentist may recommend that these teeth be extracted:
- The teeth may be developing at an angle.
- The teeth may be pushing up against another tooth, causing damage to the other tooth.
- Your mouth may not have enough room to accommodate them. As a result, this may push the other teeth out of alignment or cause pain in the future.
- The erupting teeth are causing an infection on the gum on top of the teeth.
Issues with wisdom teeth can be indicated by swelling of the gums, difficulty or pain when opening your mouth, and pain when chewing with or putting pressure on the teeth near the back of the mouth.
Wisdom teeth are most easily extracted at a younger age. Delaying removal can increase the pain and healing times associated with their removal. If you suspect that your wisdom teeth are causing your dental pain, you should see your dentist for further evaluation. A referral to an oral surgeon may be necessary to extract your wisdom teeth.