Wisdom for Teeth

Wisdom teeth are so called because they are the last teeth to come in-usually between ages 17 and 21-presumably the age when a person gains maturity and thus wisdom.

Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be an asset. In most cases, though, wisdom teeth remain impacted, trapped beneath the gum and bone and against the teeth in front of them. They may erupt only partially, often because other teeth crowd the jaw. Partially erupted teeth may tilt sideways and cause damage to adjacent teeth.

Regular dental checkups are important not just for teeth cleaning but also to allow your dentist to track the progress and condition of your adult teeth. After examining your mouth and taking X-rays, your dentist can evaluate your wisdom teeth and discuss whether or not they should be removed.

The American Dental Association recently evaluated research publicized by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons on the likelihood that retained wisdom teeth could increase the risks of health problems elsewhere in the body. While the research suggests that individuals who keep their wisdom teeth might be more likely to develop periodontal disease in that area of the mouth, the ADA concluded it is premature to speculate that the periodontal disease in these instances might lead to other health problems.

The ADA agreed with AAOMS that no changes in practice recommendations regarding wisdom teeth are needed at this time.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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