Most people age 18 or over are familiar with wisdom teeth and the concept of getting them removed. There is a lot of mystery surrounding these third molars way in the back of our mouths; what are they there for? Are they really necessary? Is it always imperative that we remove them, or are there some circumstances when keeping them is proper? Read on to find out more about what these wisdom teeth do, and how they enhance our oral health:
What is a wisdom tooth?
Teenagers approaching the ripe old age of eighteen find themselves asking the question, “what is a wisdom tooth”, as they learn about these teeth that may come in unexpectedly. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that seem to appear out of nowhere around the age of 18-20 years; they may cause a bit of havoc when they surface, or they may come through neat and clean.
Do we need to remove the wisdom tooth?
The following circumstances may keep our wisdom teeth:
- If the teeth are healthy
- If they have fully erupted
- If they are properly positioned and don’t force any other teeth out-of-place
- If they are cleaned and properly cared for both in the dentist’s office and at home
Upon examining X-rays and the structure of your mouth, your dentist will ask, “do we need to remove the wisdom tooth?”. There are circumstances where one side of the mouth is properly aligned, while the other side will need an extraction. In other cases, complete removal is necessary to promote ongoing oral health.
When wisdom teeth need removal
Most people simply don’t have the room for a complete set of third molars. When wisdom teeth don’t have room to grow, they can erupt at odd angles and cause problems with the shifting of other teeth.
Teeth that remain in the gum line can cause infections and other problems. These impactions can cause cysts and other problems that can affect the health and bone density of your jaw.
Teeth that can emerge partially through the gum line can be a breeding ground for food particles and bacteria, which can lead to decay and infection in the mouth.
Wisdom teeth that do come in can crowd other teeth, causing structural damage to both teeth and gums. In these cases, the teeth would need to be removed to preserve and protect the rest of your teeth.
What will happen to our teeth if we don’t remove our wisdom tooth?
Some dentists recommend removal of the wisdom teeth even if they don’t fully emerge. Removal of wisdom teeth when they are still in the gum line is a bit easier before age 18, as roots and bone haven’t yet fully formed, and recovery from extraction surgery is easier to manage. Curious teens ask their dentists, “what will happen to our teeth if we don’t remove our wisdom tooth?” The answer to this question can be quite disturbing, leading many young adults to decide to extract before these wisdom teeth become a problem.
1. Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position become a trap for excess food and debris that can lead to decay, not only for the wisdom tooth itself but for surrounding teeth as well.
2. Wisdom teeth that haven’t come out properly can cause issues with brushing and flossing surrounding teeth, leading to a degeneration of oral tissues.
3. Wisdom teeth that have partially emerged but not come fully through give bacteria an open entry point into the gums. This opens the door for all sorts of nasty infections to occur; cysts, inflammation, and other issues may develop that compromise the health of your entire mouth.
4. An impacted, or buried wisdom tooth, can form a cyst on or near the tooth. This pus-filled pocket can damage surrounding tissues—root, bone, and other teeth, destroying the environment that is supposed to be securing your teeth in place.
The decision to remove a wisdom tooth isn’t always clear—talk to your dentist and get more information about extraction procedures before proceeding with follow up care.
What is the extraction process like?
Before wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist will likely perform a thorough examination of your teeth, soft tissue, and bone structure of your mouth. A series of x-rays will then be performed to determine how your wisdom teeth are positioned in your mouth.
If your wisdom teeth have erupted through the gum tissue, your dentist might apply a local anaesthetic or numbing agent, then proceed with a normal extraction with no need for sedation. Once the numbing agent has taken effect, your dentist will then work to loosen soft tissue and connective tissue around the tooth, making it easier to remove.
Once the tooth has been removed from its socket, your dentist will then stitch up the wound or cover it with a dressing to reduce the occurrence of infection. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for postoperative care to make sure you keep teeth and gums healthy while healing is taking place.
If teeth are impacted, or if they haven’t come through the gum tissue, your dentist will have to perform a more detailed procedure involving cutting into the gum and possibly bone tissue to remove all traces of tooth and bone that could cause complications later.
A procedure like this would most likely demand sedation on your part, with a little more time to heal given the more invasive nature of the surgery. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for post-operative care to ensure that you avoid painful conditions like infections and dry socket.
If you are wondering about the condition of your wisdom teeth, or you are not sure whether you need an extraction, see Dr. Childers for a comprehensive assessment of your oral health, including the condition of your wisdom teeth. Putting it off could mean additional pain and inconvenience for you; be proactive in taking care of your wisdom teeth; it’s the wisest thing to do!
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201 West Washington
Benton, IL 62812
Phone: (618) 438-2815
Do All Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?
I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree at Southern Illinois University and then received my Doctorate of Medical Dentistry at the University of Kentucky. After, I attended the University of Tennessee to complete my Master of Science in Orthodontics degree.
I consider every minute of continuing education to be vital for my patients and myself. Staying current with the latest trends, techniques, and technologies within my field allows me to improve treatment efficiency and provide higher quality results for each person I treat.