Let’s be wise about wisdom teeth
You can wait for a possible problem, or have them removed as a precaution
Dentists are committed to helping their patients keep their teeth for a lifetime. At times, however, an extraction is deemed the best course of treatment. Some people are born without wisdom teeth, some people have enough space in their mouth to accommodate wisdom teeth, but some people end up getting their wisdom teeth removed as a precaution. Then there are the majority of people who wait until they’re in pain before seeing their dentist. There are several factors that dentists take into account before recommending treatment, and all depend on the severity of the case.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are often impacted, meaning that they’re not able to fully erupt through the gum line due to limited space. If you’ve had braces or Invisalign prior to your wisdom teeth coming in, this could ruin your straight teeth by pushing your bottom and top rows of teeth forward, causing overcrowding, crooked teeth and bite problems (and additional future work to re-straighten).
Overcrowding can ruin a healthy smile because teeth that are too close together can become breeding grounds for plaque and bacteria. Crooked and crowded teeth are more difficult to clean when you brush and floss your teeth, allowing trapped food to remain in place. Built-up bacteria might not be removed until you have a professional cleaning, allowing plenty of time for tartar to form, increasing the chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
Gum Disease or Tooth Decay
Wisdom teeth are some of the most difficult teeth to clean, simply because of their location in the back of your mouth, making it more complicated to reach with your toothbrush and floss. They’re also difficult to clean if they don’t actually erupt through the gum line, and their suspended state can lead to gingivitis, or the beginning phase of gum disease.
Gingivitis is a swelling of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque around the gum line. Without proper care and maintenance, your gums will eventually recede, you may lose bone density in your jaw, and your teeth might need to be extracted. Gum disease can spread and lead to tooth decay and increase the potential need for extractions.
Infected Wisdom Teeth
If your wisdom teeth are impacted, they could irritate the surrounding gums and cause painful cysts. These cysts need to be treated by your dentist as they can hollow out your jaw and damage nerves. Due to the high possibility of infection, irritation and pain, many people choose to get their wisdom teeth removed before any of these problems arise.
More mature wisdom teeth could grow near the nerve in the jaw and be difficult to remove, not to mention more painful. They can also cause headaches or migraines, in addition to jaw or facial pain, and make it harder for you to chew.
Studies show that wisdom teeth will cause complications over your lifetime, and although they may not be causing symptoms that you feel or aware of, there could be issues going on under the surface that are problematic. If you’re not sure about the status of your wisdom teeth, or just want more information, make an appointment to see your general dentist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a personal decision and your dentist will take a look at your X-rays and work with you to ensure a happy, healthy smile.