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The third molars on both the sides of the upper and lower jaw are called wisdom teeth. They usually appear between the age of 14 to 24 , though they can appear at a later age in some people. In some people, the wisdom teeth do not appear at all. Other teeth grow during childhood, but since these teeth appear when a person is older, (and "wiser"), they are called wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are often removed in most developed countries where food is usually non-vegetarian and does not required much chewing and grinding. In places where the diet consists of mainly fruits and raw vegetables, the molars may grind down due to wear and tear. Here, the wisdom teeth are useful for chewing the food. Also if you have lost teeth due to cavities (or are likely to lose teeth) or an accident , the wisdom teeth are useful for chewing .
If the wisdom tooth remain below the gums or grow above the gums in the normal position , they do not cause any harm and should not be removed. However, if they are not in a normal position, the impacted wisdom teeth should be removed. They can be horizontally impacted, vertically impacted or impacted at an angle.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause the following problems:
1. Since food particles , bacteria and saliva can collect around the impacted tooth, it can cause cavities in the tooth and adjacent teeth.
2. If food and bacteria collect in the gum, there may be an infection causing pain and bad breath. The infection may spread to other parts of the body.
3. An impacted tooth may put pressure on adjacent teeth which is painful. Also a fluid filled tissue (cyst) may be formed which can cause bone loss.
Since the wisdom teeth are the last molars in the mouth, extraction of these teeth can be a complicated procedure. Extraction of the teeth of the upper jaw can be difficult, since the patient has to keep the mouth wide open for a long time. Usually extractions are conducted under local anesthesia. If the teeth are to be extracted, it is recommended that it is done when the patient is less than 25 years old, since injuries heal faster at a younger age.
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