Wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they are naturally aligned and the gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this is not generally the case. Dentists and oral surgeons decide to remove wisdom teeth for many reasons, mostly due to the risk of impacted molars that can cause a variety of problems.
The Importance of Wisdom Tooth Removal
People typically have twenty-eight adult teeth, but every person is unique. Some people can have from one to four wisdom teeth, while others have none at all. If your wisdom teeth are correctly positioned in your mouth and do not cause any pain or potential dental problems, there may be no reason to have them removed whatsoever.
Even if a wisdom tooth is not a source of pain, that does not necessarily mean that there is nothing wrong. Wisdom teeth can grow one of two ways; some will grow in an upright manner like regular teeth and some can form sideways and become impacted. The term impacted means the tooth will not break through your jaw and into your mouth. Impacted wisdom teeth are blocked from growing properly and can remain below the surface of your gum line. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt. If formed improperly, this extra set of molars can push your other teeth around, causing mouth pain and additional jaw problems. The pressure from the erupting teeth may shift other rows and disrupt the natural alignment of your smile. This impaction may be caused by a couple of reasons. When these teeth grow in, sometimes they take up too much space in the mouth. Since the mouth has limited space to work with, issues such as overcrowding or wisdom teeth growing on an angle towards other teeth may occur.
When wisdom teeth have partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows plaque and bacteria to accumulate. This hotbed for bacteria may cause inflammation, hardened gums, and eventually infection. Due to swelling, stiffness, pain, and associated illness, cleaning around this area may be difficult. This can cause cavities and pockets between teeth that could lead to a much larger infection like gum disease. This is called pericoronitis, an inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the crown of a partially erupted tooth, including the gums and the dental follicle. Pericoronitis can be managed with antibiotics and warm salt water rinses. With this care, the condition should go away in approximately one week.
One of the most serious problems related to wisdom teeth is when a tumor or cyst forms around the impacted tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form next to the teeth, affecting bones, roots, nerves, and surrounding structures. This results in the destruction of the jawbone and other healthy teeth. If a cyst becomes too severe, it can turn into a tumor and require additional surgery. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure. Removal of the problematic teeth usually resolves these complications.
Although there is no correct age for wisdom tooth removal, some dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth if they don’t fully emerge. As you age, the bones in your mouth get harder, making your teeth more difficult to remove. Some doctors believe it is better to remove wisdom teeth at a younger age before the roots and bone are fully formed – so recovery is generally faster after surgery. This is why some young adults have their wisdom teeth pulled before the teeth cause problems. However, if you’re in your 40s with all of your wisdom teeth and they cause no oral health complications, taking them out is not necessary. Before making any recommendations, your dentist will examine your mouth and take some x-rays to look at the shape of your mouth. This tactic will analyze the position of your teeth in consideration with your age to male plans for moving forward. Another common option is removing healthy molars to prevent problems later on.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Near You
Wisdom teeth do not have a preset clock for when they will emerge. Although they tend to develop around the start of young adulthood, impacted teeth can cause problems in adults as well. If there is evidence of troubling changes in the mouth, your wisdom teeth may need to be removed. For more information about wisdom teeth or any other dental procedure provided by St. Luke’s OMS, feel free to contact us and set up a consultation at one of our four convenient locations.