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Are Wisdom Teeth Wise?

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Known in dentistry as “third molars”, they are often called “wisdom teeth” in society. These teeth arrive in the mouth sometime during high school or early adulthood – at a time when many parents believe that their kids need a bit more wisdom! Only once the jaw has reached full maturity, there might be space for them. There are pros and cons to third molars. They provide additional chewing surfaces. Some erupt slowly, with a gum tissue “flap” over the chewing surface for months on end. It is hard to keep the teeth clean until this tissue flap recedes, if it does, and the areas are tender if crunchy foods venture back that way. At times, third molars never move up into position, that is, aligned with the biting surface of all the other teeth. Many times, they are tipped forward. Both are problematic because food accumulates, creating a cavity, bad breath, and sometimes gum disease. Our hygienists take the time to show patients how to adapt their toothbrushes to clean this space, sometimes suggesting a site-specific brush. Therefore, we would be wise to heed their suggestions.

The other concern about wisdom teeth is whether the jaw will eventually grow enough to make room for a late arrival. An orthodontist is trained to take specific X-rays that are precisely measured, to determine the growth pattern of children. Only then can one make a calculated guess whether the four wisdom teeth will fit or, potentially, erupt and force existing teeth to crowd together.

Should an adult dislike the appearance of their crowded teeth, or find it difficult to keep them clean, sometimes a combination of minor orthodontics and capped front teeth can rectify the problem. Ask me if you’re a candidate for coordinated care between two professionals with specialty training!

Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.