Older teenagers quite often get new teeth! These third molars are usually called wisdom teeth. They don’t make you any wiser, of course. They are called wisdom teeth because they come in when you are a little older and presumably already a little wiser!

Located in the very back of the mouth, these molars are designed to help you chew. Sometimes, though, they become more of a problem than a helper. They may come through the gums in the wrong position or there may not be enough space for them to surface at all.

You may have heard the phrase “impacted wisdom teeth.” This means that the teeth are essentially trapped beneath your gums. The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that your dentist will monitor your wisdom teeth for signs of trouble, including wisdom teeth that:

  • Aren’t in the right position, allowing food to become trapped. That gives cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.
  • Haven’t come in properly, making it difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
  • Have partially come through, giving bacteria a place to enter the gums and creating a place for infection to occur. This may also lead to pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
  • Don’t have room to come through, as they are thought to crowd or damage neighboring teeth.
  • Are impacted, especially when they form a cyst on or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

If you are having pain or severe discomfort with your wisdom teeth, you probably need to have them removed. Teenagers who need braces may have to have the wisdom teeth removed as well.

While wisdom teeth are designed to help us chew, sometimes they just aren’t that wise or helpful and need to go! Talk to your dentist and discuss the options for your wisdom teeth.

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