Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Human evolution has removed the need for our third molars, also referred to as our wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are a set of four adult teeth located in the back corners of your mouth. They typically grow in usually between the ages of 16 and 24; hence the name wisdom teeth for the “wise” young adults who produce them.
Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure amongst youth and adults all over the world. Situated in the back of your mouth, wisdom teeth have the potential to cause issues if an oral health specialist does not correctly diagnose them. Through panoramic x-rays, your family dentist will be able to check on their status and offer you an educated opinion on your best course of action. Your family dentist will refer you to an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon for further evaluation and treatment of your wisdom teeth.
Here is some more information on wisdom teeth and the indications for their treatment.
When Not to Remove Wisdom Teeth
It’s all about the benefits versus risks in determining whether you should have your wisdom teeth removed. In special/rare cases, wisdom teeth will not produce health complications making the need for extraction unnecessary. Here are a few scenarios where wisdom teeth extraction would not be required:
• Your oral health remains in stellar condition – reducing the risk of wisdom teeth accentuating pre-existing conditions.
• They have already grown in (erupted fully) without causing complications
o For many people, even though the wisdom teeth visible and erupted in your mouth, it is hard to use them to chew as well as difficulty in cleaning them as they are so far back
• Your wisdom teeth are situated correctly in your mouth, and your bite is aligned properly
• They are easily accessible and capable of being clean proficiently
• The upper wisdom teeth are located so high up against your maxillary sinus and likely will never come down/erupt
• The lower wisdom teeth are impacted in such a way that they are in proximity with your nerve and you are at high risk of nerve injury. If the teeth are situated in such a way, they will likely not cause future problems, the high risk of nerve injury does not justify the removal of asymptomatic wisdom teeth.
One important point to mention is that if your wisdom teeth do not need to be extracted, it does not mean you just forget about them. It is very important to continually have them checked out by your general dentist with regular clinical and radiographic exams. They may become symptomatic in the future. This is one reason why many young patients choose to have their wisdom teeth evaluated at a young age and extract them early, so they do not cause a problem in the future.
When to Remove Your Wisdom Teeth
Most adolescents and adults will end up requiring their wisdom teeth to be extracted, and this is usually because they don’t have enough room to grow fully and erupt completely like the rest of your teeth. This is called an impaction. When wisdom teeth are impacted, they either cannot break through the gums or can only emerge partially through. Wisdom teeth tend to erupt at unfavourable angles such as growing in sideways, which can seriously inflict pain and discomfort within your mouth.
The most common problems with impacted wisdom teeth requiring their removal include:
• Wisdom teeth are hiding behind the gums, and food will commonly get trapped under the flap of gums leading to bacterial accumulation and an infection called pericoronitis
• Wisdom teeth only emerge half-way through the gums, which can make it incredibly difficult to clean and maintain. Again, this will become a food trap area. This effect can create a passage for bacteria and germs to grow and thrive, possibly leading to infections such as pericoronitis.
• Wisdom teeth infections can progress into more severe deeper space infections that can be serious and life-threatening
• Wisdom teeth are pushing aside already settled teeth; scraping and pushing up against your permanent teeth can lead to issues including tooth decay, enamel loss, and bite misalignment.
• A serious problem includes possible cysts or tumours that form from impacted wisdom teeth that never made it into your mouth. Odontogenic cysts or tumours can result in the destruction of your jawbone and damage teeth.
• Wisdom teeth commonly cause cavities on the adjacent molar tooth. Often your wisdom teeth need to be removed for your general dentist to treat the cavity on the adjacent molar tooth
Many family dentists and oral surgeons recommend wisdom teeth should be removed at an early age to reduce complications. Wisdom teeth are easier to remove when you are young, and the roots have not fully formed. This age group is typically experiencing the healthiest time in their lives and generally will have a faster predictable recovery compared to older adults. Young patients have fewer complications compared to adults over 30.
For example, it is beneficial to remove your teeth when the roots have not fully grown because you will have less chance of nerve injury complications. As you get older, your roots will develop more and can impinge against a nerve in your jaw that can cause nerve injury. Your bone also becomes denser as you get older and your healing capacity is decreased.
You should get a dental panoramic x-ray when you are 16-20 to evaluate the growth and positions of your wisdom teeth. Your oral surgeon specialist can then discuss with you and your options of whether and when you should remove your wisdom teeth.
You will often be seen by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to evaluate your wisdom teeth as they are the experts with respect to wisdom teeth surgery. Their formal training prepares them for even the most complicated wisdom teeth impactions. As well with any surgery, there are complications and your oral surgeon specialist is best equipped to handle these complications.
Here at Pacific Coast Oral and Maxillofacial solutions, we routinely evaluate and treat wisdom teeth problems every day. Contact us today to evaluate whether you need to have your wisdom teeth removed before they cause a problem!