When a person reaches the ages between 17 to 21, the eruption of wisdom teeth or third molars may take place. However, for some, wisdom teeth do not show up at all. These teeth are called wisdom teeth because they tend to show up at a later and more mature age. When wisdom teeth correctly show up, they can help you chew. A little discomfort may be experienced when these teeth erupt. See your dentist right away if you have pain.
Why do some people lack wisdom teeth?
According to a study, around 35 percent of people have missing wisdom teeth. The following are the three main reasons why some people lack wisdom teeth:
1. Wisdom teeth have not erupted yet
Wisdom teeth may remain dormant in people's jawbone for a number of years, and may never show up if they are impacted or do not have enough space to grow.
2. Evolution and genes
Evolution may have an important role to play when it comes to the absence of wisdom teeth in some people. A study conducted in Princeton University shows that the expanding size of the human brain over time indicated that the head can no longer accommodate a larger brain along with extra teeth. This gradual shift allowed the first and second molars to do the chewing, making the third molars unnecessary. For this reason, not having third molars won't be a problem during eating.
A chromosomal mutation called MYH16 was discovered in another study done at the University of Pennsylvania. According to the study, this mutation has permitted humans to develop larger brains and not having enough space for wisdom teeth to grow. However, evolution opponents emphasize the human dietary shift along with dental hygiene, which led to a lesser need of using wisdom teeth.
3. Wisdom teeth may have already been removed
Removal of wisdom teeth may be needed if they are misaligned or impacted. The adjacent teeth, nerves, and jawbone can get damaged due to poor alignment of wisdom teeth. Sometimes, dentists or oral surgeons recommend the extraction of wisdom teeth to prevent future problems.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that are enclosed in the soft tissue or jawbone. They may also partially erupt through the gum, which then allows bacteria to enter around the teeth and cause an infection. If an infection develops, general illness, swelling, and pain are often experienced.
Individuals with partially erupted wisdom teeth are more susceptible to developing gum problems and tooth decay because of the awkward positioning of their teeth, making flossing and brushing difficult. Moreover, when impacted wisdom teeth are infected, severe pain and serious health problems may occur.
How will I know if I have wisdom teeth?
You may see a dentist and ask about wisdom teeth and their positioning. An X-ray may be taken to help your dentist evaluate the alignment or presence of wisdom teeth. Dentists may also refer their patients to an oral surgeon to further evaluate the condition.
Should wisdom teeth be removed?
Even though a person's wisdom teeth do not hurt, it does not always mean that there is nothing wrong. Wisdom teeth could be impacted or stuck, which means that the teeth cannot break through the jaw and into the mouth. Although not always necessary, oral surgery for the removal of wisdom teeth is a standard practice among young adults.
Some dentists recommend the extraction of third molars to prevent dental problems in the future. One of the reasons is that as people age, the bones present in the mouth tend to get harder, which makes wisdom teeth difficult to remove. If teeth extraction is delayed, fractured teeth, as well as heavy bleeding, severe numbness, and limited jaw movements may be experienced. These problems could temporarily or permanently last.
The following are some good reasons to take wisdom teeth out:
- Alignment - Impacted third molars can cause crowding of the teeth, which may require treatment to straighten teeth.
- Tooth Decay - Tooth decay is also called as cavities or dental caries, which tends to form on the surface of the tooth, where plaque remains for a longer time. Since wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean because of their positioning, they are more prone to the formation of cavities.
- Inflamed Gums - Gums may appear red and swollen along with draining pus or fluid. When affected gum areas swell, they can be difficult to clean.
- Sinus Problems - Wisdom teeth issues may also cause congestion, pressure, and sinus pain.
- Fluid-Filled Sacs (Cysts) - Fluid-filled sacs may form around the wisdom teeth, and if they are left untreated, nerve damage and jaw problems may occur.
- Other Teeth Problems - The presence of third molars can push other teeth and cause bite problems and mouth pain.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
A local anesthetic is usually used to numb the teeth and surrounding tissues before teeth extraction. The same type of anesthetic is used when filling cavities. Patients and their dentist or oral surgeon may also discuss if there is a need to use sedatives to help control anxiety (if any).
The following options may be used as sedating medications during teeth extraction:
- Nitrous Oxide - Also known as laughing gas
- Valium - An oral sedative
- Intravenous Sedative - Administered intravenously or via injection
The removal of wisdom teeth is usually an easy and short procedure. However, patients may need someone to drive them home after the procedure if other sedating medications are chosen instead of nitrous oxide. The mouth normally heals after a few days.
Should you worry if you have wisdom teeth?
There is no need to worry if you regularly visit your dentist and have not ignored any discomfort caused by your wisdom teeth. If there is a need to remove your wisdom teeth, local anesthesia will be given. The procedure is usually painless, so you will not feel any pain during the wisdom teeth removal.
Although everyone will have different experiences when it comes to having wisdom teeth, it doesn't have to be traumatic. Make sure to have regular dental exams and talk to your dentist if you have any concerns or questions about your wisdom teeth.