Some rites of passage are more pleasant than others. Compared to things like your first paper route, puppy, and job — or first crush or kiss — where does having your wisdom teeth rank? Don’t answer that. We have a hunch.

The prospect of undergoing wisdom teeth extraction in SE Calgary is, for many, a sure sign that they’ve made the transition from childhood to adulthood (or nearly so). Wisdom teeth are somewhat mysterious things, and it’s understandable that you may have questions about what they’re all about… and why the staff at a dental clinic near you might recommend that so many people have their wisdom teeth extracted.

Just what are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that emerge long after the first two sets of molars that arrive with a child’s adult teeth once their children’s teeth have fallen out. In fact, they’re the biggest teeth your mouth will ever see, which is part of the reason for this conversation in the first place (but more on that later). While there is no magic date for wisdom teeth to arrive, they commonly make their appearance between a person’s mid-teens and their early to mid-twenties.

However, don’t be too surprised if you get well into or even through your twenties without ever noticing any sign of wisdom teeth. At least one-third of people don’t have or develop any wisdom teeth at all.

During human development, our jaws have gotten gradually smaller. In the jaws of today’s humans, there usually isn’t enough room for a third (and largest) set of molars to emerge without severely disrupting other teeth. Beyond that, you simply don’t need that third set of molars in the way that early humans might have thanks to the evolution of our diets, lifestyle, and medical and dental treatment.

When wisdom teeth that are too large and entirely unnecessary try to emerge in a mouth that is too small to accommodate them, the wisdom teeth may shove existing teeth out of position or become stuck below the surface of your gums or other teeth. That’s the scenario called impacted wisdom teeth, and one that invites significant risk of pain, need for surgery, oral hygiene challenges, cysts, abscesses, infection, misalignment, and even tumors.

To avoid all of those potential negative issues, many dentists recommend that people have their wisdom teeth extracted.

At what age should your wisdom teeth be pulled?

The best way to get an answer to this question is to pose it directly to a dentist at a dental clinic in SE Calgary who knows your medical and dental history and who has reviewed dental images of your jaw. As a general rule, though, the best age to have your wisdom teeth extracted is before those wisdom teeth cause any health and dental problems. Removing your wisdom teeth earlier rather than later will protect you from the risks described above, and allow for a more orderly surgical procedure rather than one forced to respond to more complicated circumstances.

As to the best age in years, no two people are alike, but most dentists recommend that wisdom teeth be extracted by the time a person is 25 years old. Again, though, this will be confirmed after careful consideration of your dental condition and images. After all, you might not even have wisdom teeth. In that case, you may not have to give another thought to undergoing wisdom teeth extraction near you.

If you’re concerned about symptoms that may relate to emerging or impacted wisdom teeth or want to take proactive steps to protect your health by having them extracted, get in touch with a dentist at a dental clinic in SE Calgary for specific advice based on your particular circumstances.