Wisdom teeth have long been a topic of discussion. Interestingly, not everyone develops wisdom teeth, but for those who do, they can cause pain in some instances. Some do have wisdom teeth but have less than four. A common question asked by many: Does everyone have to get their wisdom teeth removed? The answer is no, but varies from person to person and will depend on a variety of factors.
Why Do Dentists Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Considering wisdom teeth are often associated with prolonged and severe pain that can affect other parts of the body like the neck, back, arms, and head, it’s natural that people would rather opt to have them removed. But apart from that, you can also experience other oral problems when your third molars finally break through the gums:
- Impacted teeth – As vestigial features of the human body, these teeth are prone to growing in irregular directions, sometimes even horizontally. As a result, wisdom teeth can get impacted. The term “impacted” means a tooth has not “erupted” or broken through the gums because it has no space to grow.
- Infection – Impacted wisdom teeth can have a high risk of infection because their irregular growth creates pockets in the gums where bacteria can thrive.
- Cavities – Given the irregular way third molars grow and the cramped space where they erupt, food particles can easily get trapped around the third molars. Unfortunately, these same reasons also make it hard to brush the area around the molars. As a result, wisdom teeth can often develop cavities.
- Shifting teeth – Wisdom teeth typically emerge when people are about 17 to 25 years old. By the time they erupt, you have fully-developed teeth already occupying a lot of space in your jaw. Wisdom teeth can push and shift them out of alignment when they finally erupt.
After delving into the reasons why they should be removed, you might wonder when wisdom teeth can stay at all. Here are some thoughts:
When Do I Need To Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
In 2008, The American Public Health Association announced that the organization doesn’t agree with preventative extraction of wisdom teeth. Their statement followed arguments by oral surgeons that removing third molars when a patient doesn’t have any symptoms that would justify their removal is a health hazard.
Why did they consider wisdom teeth removal dangerous? The primary reason is that there’s a risk of nerve injury. Impacted wisdom teeth are so painful because they erupt in an area abundant with nerves. Some may experience severe pain not because their third molars became impacted but because they touched a major nerve. Extracting these molars could bruise nearby nerves and, in worst-case scenarios, permanently damage them.
As a result, even though wisdom tooth extraction is a standard procedure, some dentists recommend doing it only when necessary. Further, patients should seek out experienced dental surgeons they can trust to perform the procedure without any adverse outcome.
To answer the question, “Do I need to get my wisdom teeth removed?” you should first assess your situation. If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, wisdom tooth extraction will be necessary to relieve your pain and discomfort. It will also prevent your teeth from getting crooked and your upper and lower teeth from becoming misaligned.
What about preventative removal? An experienced dentist or oral surgeon should be able to advise you whether your wisdom tooth will cause trouble in the future if it isn’t giving you any issues right now. Preventative extraction depends on your dentist’s judgment and confidence in predicting how your teeth will grow. If you’re willing to take the preventative route, consult experienced dentists who have your best interests in mind.
How to Know When Wisdom Teeth Can Stay
Most people would rather go through a major dental procedure only when absolutely needed, but there should be no reason to wait to experience the dreaded symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth. A more reliable method of finding out if you don’t need extraction is to check for the following:
- Have your third molars fully erupted?
- Are they healthy and without cavities?
- Are they in a good position, and aren’t crowding your first and second molars?
- Are your upper and lower molars aligned? Can you bite comfortably?
- Can you reach your wisdom teeth with your toothbrush and clean them properly?
- Do you not experience piercing nerve pain at the back of your jaw?
If your answer to all of these questions is yes, then you probably won’t need to have your wisdom teeth removed. Of course, it’s always best to have your dentist verify all of these. Have open discussions with your dentist and make sure they know and understand your reasons for not wanting preventive extraction.
Get Honest Assessments from Dependable Dental Experts
Whether or not you seek wisdom teeth removal, it helps to have dental care providers who are honest and sincere in providing quality treatments to their patients.
Our dental professionals at Advanced Orthodontics can educate and help you make an informed decision about wisdom teeth removal that you won’t regret. Call or text us at (480) 357-4900 or schedule a free consultation on our website.