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Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third molars and the last ones in the series of teeth. If they erupt, they come out at the age of 16 to 24 years old. They can be very useful for chewing if they are well aligned. However, in most cases, they do not come out completely, staying impacted in the jaw and should be extracted.

Origin of the Expression "Wisdom Teeth"

It is thought that those teeth are called "wisdom teeth" because they appear in the mouth very late, much later than the other teeth, at an age where people have more wisdom than when they were children, when all the other teeth erupt.

Indications for Wisdom Teeth Extraction

When the jaws are not wide enough to allow the wisdom teeth to erupt in an alignment that is useful for chewing.

When the wisdom teeth are partially erupted, since this allows bacteria to penetrate around a tooth and cause an infection. Partially erupted teeth are also more susceptible to cavities and gum disease since they are more difficult to clean.

A misalignment of the wisdom teeth can squish or damage the second molars since maintaining a good oral hygiene is difficult in this area, making these teeth more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.

To reduce the risk of cysts formation that can appear around an impacted tooth. The best time to extract wisdom teeth is at the end of adolescence, since the roots may not be completely formed, making the treatment less complicated.

Sometimes a wisdom tooth does not come out completely, creating an extension of gum called an operculum. While eating and chewing on food, this operculum can be irritated and infected causing a pericoronitis. This condition has signs of redness, intense pain, a bad smell and a difficulty of opening the mouth.

If the operculum does not disappear, it is recommended to extract the wisdom tooth to prevent complications of the pericoronitis. Under certain conditions, if the wisdom tooth has erupted, but an operculum is still present, it is possible to make an operculectomy, which means the removal of the extension of the gum without extracting the tooth.