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Q: Where’s the wisdom in wisdom teeth?

Posted February 05, 2014 in Advice Column, Perry

A: Often these teeth are troublemakers that decide to turn crooked, refuse to grow in completely or become misshapen, which seem to be misnamed. Also called third molars, wisdom teeth are the rearmost teeth on each side of your top and bottom jaws. These teeth are the ones that can be commonly missing, too. Some people only have one, two, three  or even get all four. They arrive between ages 17 and 25 — the “age of wisdom.”

Because these teeth arrive last, they often enter a jaw that is already crowded. As a result, the last teeth in usually don’t get a seat on your gums. And if they do manage to squeeze in, often little or none of each tooth rises above the gums, becoming what dentists call impacted.

Impacted teeth don’t always cause problems, but it is important to visit your dentist regularly so that he or she can monitor their arrival.  Wisdom teeth also have a high rate for getting cavities due to the position they are in and are hard to clean in those areas.

If you do need to have your wisdom teeth removed, it’s best to do that before age 20. This is the best time, because the roots are only about one-third formed and the surrounding bone is generally softer.

Keep your semiannual dental appointments. Before wisdom teeth emerge, they show up on X-rays, and by the late teens dentists can tell if there’s going to be enough room or if they’re going to cause problems.

Information provided by Jody Peters, RDH, Swanson Dental 2423 Willis Ave., Perry, 515-465-5170.

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