Why Wisdom Teeth Removal is Often Necessary and What to Expect
Wisdom teeth removal is necessary if the teeth are impacted and to avoid dental health problems in the future. Humans do not have enough space in the mouth to accommodate a third set of molars. Most patients get their wisdom teeth removed as soon as they emerge, in their teenage years or early twenties, but some choose to keep their wisdom teeth. However, even if they grow healthy and straight without disrupting nearby teeth, wisdom teeth can become problematic down the road.
Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Always Necessary?
Dentists and oral surgeons recommend getting wisdom teeth removal surgery, even if the wisdom teeth don’t cause problems. They are a ticking time bomb of oral health issues, and the longer you wait to remove them, the greater the damage and the harder it is for an oral surgeon to correct them. Your mouth has enough room to fit 28 teeth: 14 on the top and 14 on the bottom. Your third set of molars or wisdom teeth makes the total number of teeth in your mouth 32. Since there is not enough room, wisdom teeth often emerge impacted, which includes:
- Teeth becoming trapped beneath the gums
- Partially emerged wisdom teeth
- Crowding of nearby healthy teeth
What happens if wisdom teeth are impacted?
Impacted wisdom teeth cause a host of problems to your oral health if they are not removed. If wisdom teeth cannot emerge and become trapped under the gumline, infection and jawbone cysts can develop that damage roots of healthy teeth.
Sometimes, impacted wisdom teeth cannot erupt through the gumline fully. The partially emerged tooth creates a gap between the tooth and gums where harmful bacteria thrive, leading to gum disease and infection.
Some patients’ wisdom teeth will fully emerge but crowd nearby teeth in the process. Since there isn’t enough room for the third molars, your healthy teeth get pushed out of the way, damaging their roots. Once healthy roots are damaged, the tooth is on a straight course to decay. And when the roots of teeth decay, the jawbone ceases to grow.
What if your wisdom teeth aren’t impacted?
The roots of your third molars take a few years to develop within the jawbone fully. By your late twenties or early thirties, the roots have fully developed with the jawbone. Just because they haven’t caused a problem yet, doesn’t mean they won’t become problematic at any point in the future. You should still have your wisdom teeth removed, even if they don’t emerge impacted. For the rest of your life, you risk your wisdom teeth becoming problematic, painfully debilitating, and detrimental to your dental health.
How do I know if the third molars have erupted?
The most effective way to determine if your third molars are coming in is to visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and dental exam. During your routine checkups, your dentist can determine whether your wisdom teeth are coming in. Sometimes, an X-ray scan is necessary to determine if they are erupting and at what angles.
Does wisdom teeth extraction surgery hurt?
You will not feel any pain during your wisdom teeth removal procedure. Your oral surgeon will administer a local anesthetic to numb physical sensation around the extraction site and a sedative to ease your anxiety. Most patients receive nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or IV sedation, and you can request a stronger or lighter sedative to suit your preference. Both are conscious forms of sedation, but IV sedation is ideal for patients with surgical or dental anxieties.
When is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?
The best time to remove your wisdom teeth is before they become a problem, but many patients are brought to their appointment by a symptom of impacted wisdom teeth. Contact your oral surgeon immediately if you experience:
- Pain around your gums in the back of your mouth
- Pain or sensitivity around any of your teeth, gums, or jawbone
- Consecutive or repeated infections behind the teeth in the back of your mouth
- Oral cysts (sacks of fluid) or tumors
- Damage or decay to neighboring teeth
- Gum disease or recession
- Constant bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
- Trouble brushing the teeth in the back of your mouth
If you experience any of the symptoms above, contact your oral health professional as soon as possible. Call our office to schedule your consultation and determine whether wisdom teeth removal is necessary for you.
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