Wisdom teeth do not always need to come out, but it is recommended for a large number of patients. These 3rd set molars begin to emerge anytime between the ages of 15 to 20 years. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth have a hard time following a normal pattern of growth and emergence. Many times they will either partially erupt or fail to emerge through the gum line and become impacted. While impacted teeth produce pain that is hard to ignore, not all wisdom teeth complications have symptoms. Therefore, asking whether or not you should have your wisdom teeth out is a very common question – and one that requires professional judgment from your dentist.
An oral examination and panoramic x-ray will be used to help your dentist determine if you should have your wisdom teeth extracted or not. If the answer is yes, you likely fall into one of the following three categories:
What’s so bad about a wisdom tooth that only partially erupts through the gum tissue? Unfortunately, this scenario swings the door wide open for infection. The partially erupted tooth allows a convenient opening for food and bacteria to get stuck. Since the area is almost impossible to keep clean, an infection or decay becomes a strong possibility. You may start to experience pain, swelling and tenderness, which indicates you need to see your dentist about wisdom tooth extraction.
Erupted But Decayed
Perhaps your wisdom teeth actually behaved and fully erupted like they were supposed to. You are still not out of the woods. Because wisdom teeth are the 3rd set of molars to emerge, they can be very difficult to keep clean, which means they decay easily. Rather than investing in cavity treatment over and over again on these teeth, it is often better to just have them removed.
Many times the wisdom teeth become wedged into the next tooth, which creates unhealthy pressure and damage to your neighboring teeth. This also sets the stage for nerve damage, decay and shifting teeth.
Although you may not be too keen on the idea of getting some teeth pulled, it is a minor sacrifice to protect the health of your future smile. Wisdom teeth extraction is performed under sedation dentistry and an experienced dentist will ensure your discomfort is minimized. Many patients can resume normal activities within a few days after the procedure.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,