Long after our primary (baby) teeth have been replaced by permanent teeth, we get third molars – a set of four permanent teeth which come in behind the upper and lower 12-year molars. Third molars are called “wisdom” teeth because they generally erupt between 17 and 21 years of age, when we reach adulthood.
Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be a valuable asset to the mouth. Unfortunately, this is not often the case, and problems develop that require their removal. For example, when the jaw is not large enough to accommodate these teeth, they can become impacted – unable to come in or move into their proper place. They may grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum, or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.
The illustration to the right shows how wisdom teeth can be either horizontally or vertically impacted. Impacted teeth require removal to prevent future infection, systs, or shipfting of teeth. After removal, the remaining socket will fill in with bone. Impaction occurs most often in the third molars of the lower jaw. People between the ages of 16 and 19 should have their wisdom teeth evaluated. After examining your mouth and taking X-rays, Dr Seleit will discuss whether your wisdom teeth should be removed.