Wisdom Teeth Removal At Your Dentist In East Lansing
Nearly all of us develop wisdom teeth and wish we didn’t. Most of us have them on each side of our mouth, upper and lower. Strictly speaking, they are our third set of molars. They’re called “wisdom teeth” because they are so late in erupting out of the jaw – much later than all other teeth in the mouth, arriving in the late teens to early 20s.
But we need to take a step back here because that’s where the problem or problems begin. When teeth erupt – or try to erupt. We’ll get to that … but first, did you know that wisdom teeth are visitors from a previous life that have outlived their welcome and usefulness?
Our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to accommodate 32 teeth, including the big chompers that we call wisdom teeth. That was when human jaws were larger and broader than the average jaw in this day and age. Their jaws were also more U-shaped compared to ours that are more parabolic – a wider U.
As adults, our current dentition (the arrangement of teeth) in each jaw includes four incisors (for biting), two canines (for tearing), and four bicuspids or premolars, and six molars including wisdom teeth (all for grinding) – that’s 32 teeth. But most jaws today are much smaller and have the capacity for only 28 teeth.
There are many theories for why our jaws became smaller, including that the jaw accommodated its structure to enable speech. When it became smaller, the change resulted in less space at the back of the teeth known as the retromolar space. So, as you can see, something has to give! And most of the time, it’s the wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth begin to form at around age nine and completely maturing by 18-21 years. Usually, by our late teens, the jawbone has reached its adult size. This is where the problems begin as the jaw often isn’t big enough to hold the wall of our developed teeth. As a result, when wisdom teeth start to erupt, the space is too limited, and wisdom teeth can find themselves in several predicaments.
Simply put, when wisdom teeth try to erupt into the mouth when there is no room for them, they put pressure on existing already-erupted teeth. This can cause great discomfort or pain. Sometimes wisdom teeth are positioned sideways and push on the roots of your back molars. Sometimes they make other teeth shift – definitely what you don’t want to have happen, especially if you already had orthodontic treatment. Despite the reason these teeth don’t come in to place correctly, we call them “impacted.”