Most people end up having their wisdom teeth extracted. Here’s why – and what to watch for.
What we know as “wisdom teeth” are actually the third and final set of molars that we get as late teens or early adults. If your teeth are very well-aligned and you have adequate room in your mouth, wisdom teeth can erupt and remain in your mouth with no issue, but for many of us, that’s not the case. Here are a few of the reasons your dentist may recommend that your wisdom teeth be removed:
- Crowding can cause damage. If there is not sufficient room at the far back of your mouth for your wisdom teeth to come in properly, they may end up coming in horizontally, overtop of your other teeth, or be angled inward or outward. This can lead to damage to nearby teeth, jawbone, or nerves.
- Partially erupted or impacted wisdom teeth can lead to infection and lasting damage. An impacted tooth is one that doesn’t have room to erupt, and stays trapped in the soft tissue or jawbone. A fluid sac can form around impacted teeth, which may grow into a cyst and cause lasting damage to nearby teeth and jaw. Partially erupted teeth are teeth that come through the gums partway, but do not have room to fully erupt. This can leave an opening that allows bacteria to enter, causing infection. In some cases, a flap of gum tissue may grow over the partially erupted tooth and food can become trapped, again leading to infection. Partially erupted teeth are also difficult to clean, making them more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
- Even fully erupted wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean. Because of the placement at the far back of your mouth, these teeth can be tricky to brush and floss properly. This means a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Wisdom teeth can cause orthodontic issues. Your wisdom teeth may push their way in, causing your other teeth to adjust and make room and resulting in misalignment that did not exist before.
Signs That You Should Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
If you’re having regular dental cleanings and exams, your dentist will keep an eye on your wisdom teeth and discuss extraction with you, should he or she think that is in your best interests. Here are some signs you can watch for, and should speak to your dentist about:
- Pain around the back of your mouth or in your jaw. If you have been noticing sensitivity, throbbing, or other discomfort in the back of your mouth, this may be a sign that your wisdom teeth are erupting or trying to erupt. Stiffness or soreness of the jaw may also be related to wisdom teeth.
- Sinus issues. If you’re having problems with congestion, pressure, or pain in your sinuses, this might be related to your wisdom teeth.
- Swelling of the gums. Just like when babies are teething, erupting wisdom teeth can cause the gums to swell. Swollen gums can make proper oral hygiene challenging and painful.
- Cysts or infection. As mentioned above, partially erupted or impacted teeth can cause cysts or infections. Signs of these issues can be red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, pain or swelling of the jaw, bad breath, an unpleasant taste in your mouth, or even difficulty opening your mouth.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Tooth extraction may sound scary, but we can help to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Our whole team will help to set you at ease, and our experienced dentists know how to make the process go smoothly and gently, including various options for sedation. You can learn more about dental sedation at Tuxedo Dental Group here.
If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth – or just need to come in for a cleaning or check-up – get in touch with us here.