The wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars, are often the last to erupt. Similar to the first and second sets of molars, the third molars are responsible for crushing and grinding food. Wisdom teeth generally erupt between the ages of 17 and 25; however, this process does not always go smoothly. In approximately 80 out of 100 young adults, at least one wisdom tooth remains inside the jaw, according to the National Library of Medicine. When a wisdom tooth is impacted or causes problems, it may need to be removed.
Do Wisdom Teeth Always Need to Be Removed?
It is a common misconception that wisdom teeth always require removal. In some instances, it may not be necessary. The third molars are generally not removed if they are healthy, have grown in completely (fully erupted), can be cleaned thoroughly, and are positioned for proper biting.
However, there are instances in which wisdom teeth do not erupt normally. When wisdom teeth remain hidden in the gums, it is known as impaction. Impacted teeth can sometimes result in infection or the development of a cyst that damages bone or other tooth roots.
Wisdom teeth can also erupt partially through the gums. When this happens, a pathway is created that allows bacteria to enter, increasing a person’s risk of oral infection and gum disease. Even if wisdom teeth are able to fully erupt, they could lead to crowding in the mouth that causes damage to nearby teeth.
When Is Removal Necessary?
In some instances, a dentist may recommend removing wisdom teeth when a person is younger and before the bone and roots are fully formed. However, wisdom teeth removal is most often recommended when a person is experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Gum disease
- Fluid-filled sacs (cysts)
- Sinus problems
- Chronic infection of soft tissues around the third molars
- Extensive tooth decay
- Damage to nearby teeth
- Alignment issues
While symptoms are common when wisdom teeth problems occur, the absence of pain does not necessarily mean that the third molars are not causing issues in the mouth. An experienced dentist in Vero Beach FL can help you determine if your wisdom teeth need to be removed.
What are the Risks of Removal?
It is important to be aware of the risks of extraction before proceeding with treatment. After the procedure, it is normal to have some pain and swelling around the extraction sites. Bleeding is also common in the first 24 hours but should dissipate with time. Some patients may also develop trismus which appears as pain or other problems when opening the jaw.
Other risks associated with wisdom teeth removal include slow-healing gums, numbness of the lips and/or mouth after the anesthetic wears off, and an opening developing into the sinus cavity when wisdom teeth are removed from the upper jaw.
Dry sockets are also a concern after wisdom teeth removal. This condition can occur when the blood clot that protects the open tooth socket is dislodged, causing significant pain and swelling.
What are the Risks of Not Having Wisdom Teeth Removed?
While there are always risks with dental procedures, the risks of not having your wisdom teeth removed can often outweigh these dangers. When there is not adequate room in the mouth for the third molars to emerge, they can become impacted in the jawbone or erupt at the wrong angle, causing damage to other teeth, tissues, or bone.
Impacted teeth can also cause an infection to develop in the mouth. When a fluid sac forms around the impacted tooth, it can grow into a cyst. Cysts can cause ongoing damage to the jaw or nearby teeth and bones. Your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease also significantly rises as it can be difficult to keep the area clean.
Schedule an Appointment
At Vero Implants and Periodontics, we offer a wide range of procedures, including tooth extraction. We extract problematic teeth using cutting-edge 3D Cone Beam Technology to reduce risk to surrounding areas. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with our periodontist, contact us at 772.569.9700.