32 Teeth in a Size-28 Mouth
Third molars, most commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the last permanent teeth to erupt into your mouth, usually sometime between the ages of 17 and 21. It is thought that third molars were given the name “wisdom teeth” because they erupt at a time when a child is entering adulthood.
Most people will typically develop four wisdom teeth, though some may develop supernumerary (extra) wisdom teeth and, a lucky few, will fail to develop some or all of their wisdom teeth.
The average mouth will only comfortably hold 28 of the 32 teeth we are predisposed to have. Since the wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt, there is often little room left to accommodate their size and anatomy, which can cause the wisdom teeth to either:
- Become impacted under the gum tissue and bone
- Only partially erupt, exposing only part of the tooth above the gumline
- Fully erupt into the mouth in an undesirable position, usually tilting forward, pushing on the tooth in front of it.
It is possible that each of your wisdom teeth will erupt differently from one another, for example you could have only one impacted wisdom tooth and the rest could fully erupted.
Why Do I Need a Special X-ray?
A panoramic X-ray shows all the upper and lower teeth, large portions of the jaws, and other structures on one relatively large image; other types of dental X-rays do not extend back far enough. The panoramic X-ray gives the dentist a clear view of the area around the wisdom teeth, the position of each wisdom tooth and how each root is formed. From the diagnosis of this X-ray, your dentist will determine if one or all of your wisdom teeth need to be extracted and, if so, discuss either performing the extractions for you or referring you to a local oral and maxillofacial surgeon for your wisdom teeth extractions.
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed If They’re Not Bothering Me?
It is best to remove wisdom teeth from young adults before their roots have fully developed or anchored in the jawbone.
Because there is usually no room for wisdom teeth to fully erupt, they must push their way into your mouth, crowding your other teeth together and making it more difficult to brush, floss and maintain a healthy smile. Crowding also makes it more difficult to prevent decay or infection and can have a huge impact on your occlusion (bite) and your ability to chew.
If you would like to more information, we welcome your call at 360-876-0445 or visit to Fisher Distinctive Dentistry in Port Orchard, Washington, where Dr. Devin Fisher and Dr. Zack Bergevin look forward to helping you maintain a healthy smile!