It is a well-known fact that many people require their wisdom teeth to be taken out. But do you know what they are and why they could require removal, even if they aren’t currently causing problems? Learn more about wisdom teeth and the reasons why your dentist may recommend that you have them removed. Once you become familiar with the reasons behind the procedure, and the process itself, the thought of having your wisdom teeth removed shouldn’t make you anxious.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth typically appear during the late teens and early twenties. Between the ages of 18 and 21 is the most common. They are the third set of molars and often cause more problems than usefulness. It is commonplace for wisdom teeth to grow in poor positions and locations. This may cause overcrowding, misalignment with your other teeth, and even pain and infection.
You may have all four wisdom teeth or only one or two. Wisdom teeth are thought to originally have been used by our ancestors to help chew uncooked and tough foods. People became less dependent on wisdom teeth to grind and break down foods once fire was regularly used to cook on. Although wisdom teeth are no longer needed, the genes continue to be passed down and result in the majority of the population having at least one.
Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?
Not everyone has wisdom teeth. If you or your dentist notices signs that your wisdom teeth are growing in, you can discuss options for extracting them to prevent problems. Digital x-rays can also be used to determine whether or not you have wisdom teeth. You can talk to your dentist and request a digital x-ray if you prefer to know if you have wisdom teeth and should plan an extraction in the future.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
Wisdom teeth are known to cause issues with your oral health. It is impossible to predict exactly how they will grow and if they pose a risk. Your dentist may recommend that you have them removed before they grow in, or at the first signs that they are coming in, to avoid future issues.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth grow horizontally or have limited space, causing them to grow into the jawbone and surrounding soft tissues. Horizontal and other abnormal placements are referred to as impacted, and are the primary reason that wisdom teeth need to be removed. When this happens, the impacted tooth may not have room to emerge, or erupt, at all.
If your wisdom teeth push on the surrounding teeth, they can move them out of place or cause damage. This type of growth pattern makes it harder to clean your teeth properly, and easier for bacteria to flourish and cause swelling or pain. If these symptoms are left unaddressed, a serious infection may potentially develop. You could also experience gum disease or tooth decay.
In some cases, an individual does not require the removal of his or her wisdom teeth. If the teeth have already fully grown, and are healthy and properly aligned, there is likely no need to extract them. Your dentist can conduct an examination and give you personalized recommendations for the best options for your oral care.
When Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Attending your routine dental appointments at Dental Excellence helps your dentist monitor your oral health and catch the growth of wisdom teeth early. Together, you can decide if you should have them extracted before they cause problems.
If your wisdom teeth are already growing in, schedule a visit to your dentist immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Tooth pain
- Jaw pain
- Sinus pain and problems
- Redness, swelling, or infection
- Bleeding or signs of puss
- Persistent bad breath
- Damage to adjacent teeth
- Alignment issues
- Cavities or tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Swollen lymph nodes
Your dentist can diagnose the root of the problem to determine if your wisdom teeth are the culprit. Once you rule out other potential causes, you can discuss a plan and schedule your wisdom tooth removal.
It’s not necessary to wait until your wisdom teeth create problems to have them taken out. Getting them extracted early on and at a younger age can actually be beneficial. Your bone tissue hardens as you age, so early extraction is easier. It lets you avoid sustaining any damage to your teeth and oral tissues. Healing and overall recovery time are also faster for younger individuals who don’t have fully-formed wisdom teeth.
Your dentist may take an x-ray to see where your wisdom teeth may come in. This, combined with an examination of your mouth shape and tooth position, gives them a good indication of whether you should have your wisdom teeth out.
How Is Extraction Performed?
The entire process usually takes less than an hour. It’s a simple procedure that is very common. The actual removal process is as follows:
- Your dentist numbs the area. Sedation dentistry is an option if you are feeling anxious.
- Incisions are made around the gums surrounding the wisdom tooth.
- Bone tissue may need to be removed if it’s covered the tooth root.
- The tooth is removed in sections.
- The area gets cleaned and stitched to close the incision.
Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic before your tooth extraction to lower the risk of developing an infection. Take any medications as directed and follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions to make sure you heal quickly. It is normal to experience some lingering numbness, minor bleeding, and discomfort after your procedure. If you notice any unusual or worsening symptoms, contact us for advice.
Contact Dental Excellence Today
The professional team at Dental Excellent is available to provide a full range of dental care, from routine appointments to oral surgery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your wisdom teeth extraction. We have more than 40 years of experience and a team of compassionate dentists committed to giving every patient the best care there is.