Why do wisdom teeth often need to be removed?
About the authors
Drs. Dan Martin and Rachel Appelblatt at Tahoe Oral Surgery and Implant Center are your local dental implant and oral surgery specialists. They are experienced and board certified oral surgeons who specialize in customer care using state-of-the art equipment and techniques. If you have any questions or concerns about oral surgery or dental implants, please don’t hesitate to contact them at TahoeOralSurgery.com.
As children, we lose our baby teeth and our adult teeth move in to replace them. By our mid-teens all of our adult teeth, with the exception of our wisdom teeth, are fully developed and visible in the mouth. The wisdom teeth usually erupt around the age of 18. Most people have just enough room in their mouths for 28 fully functional teeth, but, once the wisdom teeth come in, we have 32. This means that most of us don’t have room in our mouths for all four wisdom teeth to fully erupt without causing negative side-effects.
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you have “fully erupted” wisdom teeth, meaning they are straight and have plenty of room around them, and you are able to brush and floss them completely, they might not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this is pretty rare. Few people have adequate space for their wisdom teeth to properly erupt, making it difficult to keep them clean, as well as putting unnecessary pressure on the neighboring teeth.
If you do happen to have fully erupted wisdom teeth, your dentist may still recommend their removal. The main reason for this is that, even when fully erupted, wisdom teeth are difficult to keep clean and often develop gum disease or caries. Often due to inadequate working space, fillings in wisdom teeth are difficult to fully seal and do not last as long as fillings in other teeth.
For most of us, there isn’t sufficient room for the wisdom teeth to erupt, but they will still try their best to make it into the mouth. This typically leads to partial impactions, where the tooth is partially visible in the mouth and partially covered by the gums and bone. This creates a perfect environment for oral bacteria and food debris to get in underneath the gums, and often leads to inflammation and infections around the tooth.
Even in cases where the wisdom teeth remain fully covered by gum and bone, removal is usually recommended. Impacted teeth that are unable to erupt often affect the adjacent teeth and can sometimes form cysts or tumors within the bone. These lesions can remain hidden from view, and may not be discovered until they are a significant problem involving a large part of the jaw. Drs. Appelblatt and Martin have each treated many older patients who have had fully impacted wisdom teeth and who were originally told as youths that they could leave them, but developed cysts or intra-bony infections which then required a much more significant surgery to remove.
Early removal of wisdom teeth is recommended to avoid creating future additional and unnecessary problems. It is also far easier for younger people to heal and recover from extraction surgery. The ideal time for wisdom teeth extraction is between the ages of 16 and 22 years old. If you’re unsure whether or not you need your wisdom teeth removed, come into Tahoe Oral Surgery and Implant Center and meet with Dr. Martin and Dr. Appelblatt. Drs. Martin and Appelblatt will perform a thorough examination, take current x-rays, and develop a recommended treatment plan specific to your situation and needs. After the evaluation, they will explain the condition of your teeth and discuss their recommended treatment plan. Early evaluation (before problems occur) and treatment results in superior outcomes for our patients.
If you have any questions or concerns about wisdom teeth extraction, oral surgery or dental implants, please don’t hesitate to contact us at TahoeOralSurgery.com.
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