Most people start getting their third molars (also called wisdom teeth) when they reach their late teens or early twenties. In many cases, the jaws are not large enough to accommodate these teeth and they remain under the gum (impacted).
Serious problems can develop from partially impacted teeth, such as pain, infection, and crowding of, or damage to, adjacent teeth. For totally impacted teeth, more serious problems can occur if the sac that surrounds the impacted tooth fills with fluid and enlarges to form a cyst.
No one can tell you when your impacted molar will cause trouble, but trouble will probably arise. When it does, the circumstances can be much more painful and the teeth can be more complicated to treat.
The key to timely attention to third molars is regular x-rays of the mouth. With the help of these pictures the oral and maxillofacial surgeon can frequently predict if the wisdom teeth are going to cause trouble, either in the near future or later in life. If so, chances are the oral and maxillofacial surgeon will recommend their removal rather than wait for trouble to occur.
Make an appointment to see Dr. Santin, a member of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He can determine if your wisdom teeth pose any threat to your health and if they require extraction.