The growth of the third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, usually happens between the ages of 17 and 21 - the time when we become old enough to have gained some wisdom about life. At Family Dental Center in Glenview, IL, our team of dentists - Dr. Sean Wisdom Teeth Cullinan, Dr. Michael Cullinan, Dr. Larry Zager, Dr. Alex Figueroa and Dr. Stella Haralampopoulos - have both the wisdom and knowledge that is needed to diagnose any potential problems with wisdom teeth. Here, they offer some insight into wisdom teeth and when they might need removed.

What is the purpose of wisdom teeth?

With so many people having them removed, it's natural to question the function of wisdom teeth. Scientists believe that our ancestors, so-called "cavemen," needed this extra set of molars to help them chew the tough, uncooked staples of their diets - roots, tree nuts and meat.

Unfortunately, our skulls, in particular our jawbones, are much smaller than those of our predecessors, which helps explain why so many of the patients we see at Family Dental Center in Glenview have wisdom teeth growing in at odd angles. There simply isn't enough room for them to grow in properly.

What problems can wisdom teeth cause?

Some lucky patients have wisdom teeth that grow in evenly and without incident. Many others, however, have issues when their wisdom teeth begin to erupt. If the wisdom teeth don't have enough room to break through, for example, they can create a crevice in the gums that traps food and can lead to infection. Infections can also happen if the teeth aren't cleaned properly due to their remote location in your mouth. Wisdom teeth can also come in crookedly and push your other teeth out of alignment. The development of these problems can usually be seen by your Glenview dentist on an x-ray, and removal may be suggested to prevent further complications.

As wisdom teeth begin to grow in, you may feel some pressure or even pain in the back of your mouth. If you've been experiencing these symptoms, or are reaching the "age of wisdom," give Family Dental Center in Glenview, IL a call to schedule an evaluation. Our dental team will be able to devise a plan that's smart for you and your unique dental needs!

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