Impacted or emerging wisdom teeth affect almost everyone. Typically, they begin emerging during adolescence, and if you are a teenager, you or your parents may be wondering why they should be removed even if they don’t hurt. For the most part, their removal is in your best interest as a preventative measure to prevent future problems.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
While most of your adult teeth come in by age 13, most people have a 3rd set of molars called wisdom teeth. These emerge later on, between the ages of 15 and 21. You likely have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of your mouth.
There is an ongoing debate over the purpose of wisdom teeth and why they cause so much trouble in modern times. In the past, larger jaw development due to coarser diets and the likelihood of lost teeth by adulthood may have afforded more space for these teeth.
Today, there is rarely room for wisdom teeth in the mouth when they emerge. The lack of space for healthy eruption leads to a wide range of issues, which is why wisdom tooth removal is widespread and recommended as a preventive measure even when symptoms are absent.
What Happens if I Do Not Have my Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you do not have your wisdom teeth removed, they can cause a variety of issues.
Commonly, the lack of space causes them to twist sideways and come into the mouth at an off angle, rendering them useless for chewing. If only part of the tooth emerges, then it becomes difficult to keep clean, and this sets you up for gum tissue inflammation, pain and infection. If you had braces, your orthodontist most likely would recommend their removal in order to prevent potential shifting of your straight teeth.
Diseases Related to Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When wisdom teeth partially emerge, it makes it difficult to keep the area clean. There is limited access for brushing and flossing, which can put you at an increased risk for gum tissue pockets where bacteria can grow and multiply, accelerating gum disease and tooth decay. You might notice the gums around the area becoming inflamed, and cavities may develop in teeth around the affected area. Less commonly, cysts can develop from impacted wisdom teeth, causing bone destruction.
How Can You Tell When It Is Time for Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Ideally, you should have your wisdom teeth removed when they are still immature and before symptoms such as discomfort, crowding, and tooth decay begins. Immature wisdom teeth do not have fully grown roots, so their removal is less traumatic and less risky.
In general, they should be considered for removal between the ages of 15 and 21. However, dental age or development of teeth can vary significantly. Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon can take 3D imaging to assess their development and timing for the procedure.
What Happens When You Need Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Once your dentist recommends that you have your wisdom teeth removed or you reach the appropriate age, you can schedule a consultation with a skilled oral surgeon, such as one of our doctors at Inland Empire Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons. Our team will carry out an examination and 3D imaging to plan your treatment.
Our surgeons can remove all four wisdom teeth in a single procedure under IV sedation. We also offer Exparel®, a long-term numbing injection, that will drastically improve your pain control afterwards. We will thoroughly discuss your needs and adjust your treatment plan as needed. Specific cases and individuals may call for an altered approach or alternative anesthesia options.
If you are in need of wisdom teeth removal, find out more about our wisdom teeth removal process at Inland Empire Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.