What exactly are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the teeth at the furthest posterior (back) of the mouth. These are the teeth that typically appear in the mid to late teen years and erupt behind the first and second molar teeth.
We know you have questions.
Wisdom tooth removal is a very common surgery that is performed for many reasons. Even though it is very common, and you may know many people that have had it done, you may still have many questions of your own. Here are the answers to many of these questions including the “who’s” and “why’s”.
Why do we want to remove the wisdom teeth?
Many people do not have room for their wisdom teeth to fully and properly erupt. This is one of the most common reasons for removal of these teeth. On numerous occasions, the wisdom teeth will cause more problems in the mouth than any other tooth. Due to the lack of space, many adults still have a remaining wisdom tooth under their gumline that will never erupt.
Do I have to have my wisdom teeth removed?
Not all people need or are a candidate for wisdom teeth removal. You dentist will evaluate the eruption pattern as well as positioning of your wisdom teeth to determine if you are in fact a candidate for the procedure.
What does “impacted wisdom teeth” really mean?
Wisdom teeth that are impacted will remain under the gumline unless surgically removed. With that, there is a partial impaction as well. Partial impaction means that the tooth tried to erupt but could not for one reason or another. Most partial impactions happen when the tooth partially breaks through the gum and stops. In complete impaction, the tooth never completely breaks through the bone or gum.
What can happen if I don’t have my wisdom teeth removed?
There are many issues that can develop if wisdom tooth extraction is indicated but not properly treated. These issues can range anywhere form pain and swelling to damage and loss of adjacent teeth. Teeth that are fully impacted can cause more serious issues like formation of cysts in the sac surrounding the tooth. These cysts can cause damage not only to the teeth but to the jaw and nerves as well.
But I don’t have any symptoms. Do I still need to have my wisdom teeth extracted?
Having symptoms does not always mean that you need the wisdom teeth out. Many people that need the wisdom teeth extracted may never have any symptoms until it is too late. Wisdom teeth can cause damage without you even knowing it. It is recommended that wisdom teeth are extracted before the root formation is complete due the procedure being less difficult for the patient and recovery time will most likely be shorter and less painful. Removal of the wisdom teeth at this time also means that the jawbone will likely be less dense.
Why should I get my wisdom teeth taken out so early?
For the reasons stated above, as well as recovery time, it is best to have the wisdom teeth taken out sooner than later. As a person ages, the bone becomes more dense which makes the removal (especially of completely impacted wisdom teeth) more difficult for the patient and nerve damage more likely.