Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to emerge. They usually arrive in your late teens or early twenties. Many people don’t have enough room for their wisdom teeth and so much have them extracted. In most cases, removing the teeth is more beneficial than trying to leave them intact.
Why Must Wisdom Teeth Be Extracted?
Wisdom teeth, because they are full-sized molars, take up a great deal of space in the mouth. It’s been theorized that, in the past, they were a useful addition, because people often had lost a few teeth by the time they reached adulthood. The extra space left behind allowed for sufficient space for the wisdom teeth. As dental hygiene has become better, though, most people still have all their teeth when this last set of molars emerges. Often, there simply isn’t enough room, and the wisdom teeth become impacted.
Impaction means the teeth cannot fully emerge from the gums. Sometimes the teeth partially emerge, in which case they are prone to infection. As they try to move into place, they can also shift all the rest of the teeth out of position, leading to misalignment and bite problems. In the long term, infection, impaction, and misalignment can lead to damage to the rest of your teeth and even eventual tooth loss.
If your wisdom teeth are uncomfortable, obviously infected, or if your other teeth are visibly moving out of position, talk to an oral surgeon about having them removed. Some symptoms that you might need to have your wisdom teeth extracted include:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums around the tooth
- Discomfort in your other teeth
- Obvious shifts in tooth position
- Headache and/or discomfort in the jaw or ear
- Any sign of infection, such as fever
If teeth have mostly emerged, your dentist might be able to extract them. If they are severely impacted, an oral surgeon will be required. In some cases, you’ll need general anesthetic because of the complexity of the extraction process. You and your oral surgeon will discuss the procedure and decide what is best for your individual situation.
Are you or a family member looking to get wisdom teeth extracted? Call our office today!