Wisdom Teeth

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Wisdom Teeth

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Key Facts About Wisdom Teeth

The teeth most everyone calls “wisdom teeth” are actually the third molars. These tend to be the final teeth to come in, and they are situated toward the back of the  mouth just behind the second molars. Broadly speaking, these are teeth which finish their full development sometime in between the mid-teen years and the early 20s, a period commonly linked to the acquisition of wisdom and maturity.

Impacted Teeth and the Issues They Present

While humans generally end up with a set of 32 adult, or permanent, teeth, it is quite common for the jaw itself to be too small in size for the wisdom teeth to comfortably fit. If the lack of space actually stops these teeth from fully erupting through the gums, the condition is referred to as impaction. When this occurs, the teeth may sit in an improper orientation which makes cleaning and chewing foods difficult if not impossible.

Varieties of Impacted Teeth

A dental consultation will be required to assess whether wisdom tooth extraction is indicated in a particular case. A certain type of x-ray will be ordered of the jaw and teeth to identify possible impaction and whether if eruption does in fact occur, the degree to which removal will be problematic.

A soft tissue impaction is a situation in which there is insufficient room for the gum tissues to retract in order to facilitate proper cleaning.

Partial bony Impactions are those where sufficient space is present for a partial tooth eruption, but proper chewing function and cleaning will be compromised.

The complete impaction is a circumstance in which there is a total lack of eruption space available. A tooth thus stays embedded within the jawbone itself, or it may be somewhat visible upon examination. Complicated surgical methods may be needed for removal of teeth in such a situation, particularly if the tooth in question sits in a strange or inaccessible spot. These types of issues can develop if the jaw’s size or shape or the patient’s general facial characteristics make tooth removal thornier than normal.


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