What do your appendix, your tonsils, and your wisdom teeth have in common?

All of them are considered vestigial body parts. You are most likely to hear about them when they are causing a problem and need to be removed.

In the case of wisdom teeth, you need to visit a dentist you can trust to perform this extraction. You need to visit someone like Dr. Frank at North Shore Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in Buffalo Grove, IL.

After graduating from Northwestern University, Dr. Frank completed an externship at the University of Chicago Hospital and a residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Today, he brings a wealth of knowledge and years of experience to every procedure he performs on behalf of patients like you.

The Wisdom Of Removing Your Third Molars

Your permanent teeth start erupting around the time you turn 7 years old. The first of your adult teeth to erupt are your incisors. These are the sharper teeth in the front of your mouth.

Your bicuspids will emerge a few years later, and your first and second molars will be in place for most patients around age 13.

Then there are your third molars, which are commonly known as your wisdom teeth. Third molars generally erupt in your late teens or early 20s.

A vast majority of people — up to 85 percent, according to some experts — have their wisdom teeth removed to prevent long-term oral health problems.

The issue is that many people simply don’t have enough room in their mouths to fit their wisdom teeth comfortably. If that’s the case, then why do people have wisdom teeth at all?

This is a good question, but scientists do not yet have a conclusive answer. They do have a couple hypotheses, however.

Anthropologists have examined the skulls of our ancestors, and they have compared them to the skulls of modern humans. One thing they have noticed is that modern humans have smaller jaws than our ancestors.

One hypothesis is that our ancestors ate a rougher diet than we do today. As a result, they needed the third molar to provide and additional grinding surface to chew their food so it could be digested.

Another hypothesis is that our ancestors were prone to losing teeth. The third molars could have replaced teeth that were lost to decay or trauma.

In any case, many people’s wisdom teeth no longer fit comfortably in their mouths. For them, removal is the best long-term health solution.

Impacted Teeth

Any tooth can become impacted, but this is a particular problem with wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth is one that does not erupt from your gums like it should.

A tooth can be completely impacted, which means it does not break the surface of your gums, or a tooth can be partially impacted, which means it erupts but not all the way.

The most common problem are wisdom teeth that are angled toward the front of your mouth. This causes them to grow into your existing teeth. This can press those teeth into one another and create alignment problems.

Some wisdom teeth grow horizontally. These too can put added pressure on your existing teeth. In other cases, impacted teeth can grow toward the back of your jaw.

In addition to causing alignment problems, impacted teeth can increase your risk of oral infections, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Get Evaluated

If you are the parent of a teenager, we encourage you to bring your son or daughter to our office for an evaluation. We will examine where his or her wisdom teeth are, and assess how they are coming in.

If you are one of the lucky ones whose wisdom teeth are coming in correctly without causing problems, then we will let you know that.

If we see potential problems developing, we often recommend removing the third molars to protect the teeth that are already in place. We can make arrangements for your wisdom teeth removal in those cases.

We offer a variety of sedation options, so your son or daughter won’t feel anything during the surgery, and we provide after-care instructions as your mouth heals.

If your teen hasn’t had his or her teeth examined yet, please contact North Shore Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery when you finish reading this. You can make an appointment by calling our Buffalo Grove dentist office at 847-613-4933 or by filling out our online form.