…and How Affinity Dental of La Mesa Can Help

Our mouths go through many changes over the course of our lifetime, and the appearance of the third molars, also known as the wisdom teeth, is an important milestone. These teeth have historically been called “wisdom teeth” because they come through at a more mature age than the other teeth in your mouth, usually occurring between the ages of 17 and 21 years. Although most people know about wisdom teeth, many people still have questions. Why do we have wisdom teeth? Why do so many people have them removed? At Affinity Dental, we are here to be your partner in your oral health. We have put together some common questions about wisdom teeth, but please be sure to call us with any other questions you have. 

Common Wisdom Teeth Questions:

What are wisdom teeth?

The third molars, the last (posterior) teeth that occur in the human mouth, are commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth.”


Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Our human ancestors had skulls with larger jaws and more teeth, most likely because it helped them to chew foliage. Wisdom teeth are thought to have helped our human ancestors to grind plant tissue. With the advent of agriculture over 10,000 years ago, human diets changed, resulting in jaws that grew with less forward growth than our paleolithic ancestors and not enough room for the wisdom teeth.

Why is it common to have wisdom teeth removed? 

Oral health problems can occur when there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth to surface or if the wisdom teeth come through in the wrong position. It is common in many cases for wisdom teeth to be impacted, which means they are trapped in the jaw or under the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to discomfort or pain, so it is important to have regular visits with your dentist as your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums. This way, your dentist can monitor your mouth and watch for the following signs:

  • Are the wisdom teeth crowding other teeth? If the wisdom teeth do not have sufficient room to come through, crowding or even damage to neighboring teeth may occur.
  • Are the wisdom teeth impacted? When wisdom teeth are impacted a cyst can form on or near the impacted tooth. This can cause damage to the roots of nearby teeth and can even destroy the bone that supports the teeth.
  • Are partially grown-in wisdom teeth creating unhealthy conditions in your mouth? When wisdom teeth have only partially come through, pockets may appear in the gums. These pockets give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create a place for infection to occur, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness in the jaw.
  • If the wisdom teeth have already come through, are there spaces food will get trapped? When wisdom teeth aren’t in the right position food can become trapped, and the bacteria that causes cavities can find a place to grow.
  • Is there room to properly floss? If wisdom teeth have come through, it can become difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them, creating the conditions for cavities.

At Affinity Dental, we know each individual is different, and we will work closely with you to navigate the process of wisdom teeth. As your dental care team, we will work closely with you to identify your needs, monitor the progression of your wisdom teeth, and determine your unique course of treatment. Some reasons people have their wisdom teeth removed include pain, infection, and damage to neighboring teeth. Other less common reasons include cysts, tumors, gum disease and tooth decay. Wisdom teeth are also sometimes removed as part of the treatment for braces or other dental care. We will discuss with you the best course of treatment before you make any decisions.

Is it possible to keep my wisdom teeth?

If wisdom teeth are not removed, it is important to continually monitor them because there is potential for developing problems later on. With aging, there comes a greater risk for health problems, including potential problems with the wisdom teeth. If wisdom teeth are allowed to come through, it is critical to floss well around them. Also, be sure to visit us regularly so that we can continually evaluate your wisdom teeth and your overall dental health. Healthy wisdom teeth that come through correctly may only cause a little discomfort when they appear, but if you have pain, please come see us immediately.

The Affinity Dental team is here to be partners in your oral and overall health, and we understand that every patient has unique individual needs. We will work closely with you to identify your particular needs as your wisdom teeth grow in. We treat all our patients with empathy, respect and honesty, and are proud to have been the community’s choice for dental care in La Mesa for many years. 

Call 619-697-2800 or visit https://affinitydentaloflamesa.com to learn more about Affinity Dental and the general and cosmetic dentistry services we offer. 

We accept most insurance plans and offer no interest financing.

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