While some people have their wisdom teeth removed soon after they fully emerge through the gum line, others can comfortably live with them for the rest of their lives. What category you fall into generally depends on how your wisdom teeth develop and whether they present any threat to your oral health. When deciding whether to your have wisdom teeth removed, you should consider a variety of factors.
Wisdom Teeth Evaluation
For most people, their wisdom teeth will begin to form by their mid-teens. To determine the progress of how your wisdom teeth are forming, you should have the teeth examined by a dentist sometime between the ages of 16 and 19.
Your dentist may recommend that your wisdom teeth be pulled if their development threatens to overcrowd your existing teeth, they become painful, or stuck (impacted) along your gum line. A dentist may also recommend the removal of a wisdom tooth if an infection develops as the tooth begins to break through the gum line.
When it comes to the removal of wisdom teeth, it’s better to have the procedure done soon rather than later. Most oral surgeons recommend patients have wisdom teeth extracted at a young age, when the bone and roots of a tooth have not fully developed. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed immediately to prevent any future problems from developing.
However, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. If you’re over the age of 30 and have never had any problems with your wisdom teeth, you stand an excellent chance of never having any future problems. If your wisdom teeth form correctly and in the proper position, they present no risk to your long-term oral health.
Problems arise with the formation of a person’s wisdom teeth in several ways. Usually a person’s jaw isn’t big enough to accommodate new molars as they begin to emerge. When a tooth becomes impacted, it has the potential to crowd surrounding teeth, become infected, or cause intense pain. Since wisdom teeth form in hard to reach places in the back of the mouth, they often don’t receive enough oral hygiene attention. If you don’t properly clean your wisdom teeth they may develop decay and gum disease, which will necessitate their eventual removal.
Most problems with wisdom teeth with begin to manifest between the ages of 15 and 25. As previously mentioned, if you don’t have any problems with your wisdom teeth prior to 30, you should be in the clear. However, it’s important that you don’t wait to have wisdom teeth removed in hopes that problems eventually go away. The older you get, the stronger the bones surrounding your wisdom teeth become. This makes extraction more difficult for older adults and slows down the healing process.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Having your wisdom teeth removed can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Swelling and pain in the gums, and a empty socket where your tooth previously rested
- 24 hours of continuous bleeding form the newly formed socket
- Pain from or trouble with opening your jaw
- Gums that heal slowly
- Damage to nearby dental work, such as roots, bridges, or crowns
- Dry socket, a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot filling the tooth cavity breaks away before the socket has fully healed
- Inflammation in the nerves along the gum line that may cause you to experience numbness of the jaw
You should weigh these potential issues when deciding whether to have nonimpacted wisdom teeth removed. Talk with your dentist to decide if the risks associated with leaving your wisdom teeth alone outweigh the pain and swelling you’ll experience following extraction.
A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke learned about wisdom teeth removal from Dr. Donald Lanahan, a Grants Pass dentist.