Many people choose to have their wisdom teeth extracted early in life, usually in their late teens and early 20s. But some wisdom teeth don’t need to come out, while others do more harm than good if they remain.
Our professional team at EZ Dental Clinic in Bellevue, Washington, wants you to understand situations when it’s no longer wise to keep your wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth?
Earlier in human history when people had larger mouths and needed large teeth to eat the food they captured, wisdom teeth were necessary. Today, not so much.
Wisdom teeth are the molars in the back of your mouth that are the last teeth to come in. Some people’s wisdom teeth partially emerge from underneath the gum line or they never come in.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
Impacted teeth are teeth that grow in at an angle or become trapped in the jawbone. Impacted teeth are prone to bacterial infection, and they press on neighboring teeth, causing damage to tooth structure and placement. These partially emerged wisdom teeth can create cysts, bacterial infections, and damage to your gums and jawbone tissue -- and these problems can be quite painful.
When your mouth doesn’t have enough room for wisdom teeth, other teeth shift out of place to accommodate the molars as they erupt. Whether it’s by forcing other healthy teeth out of place or causing other harm to your mouth, when wisdom teeth become troublesome, it’s time to extract them.
When extraction is necessary
While some wisdom teeth can emerge without any problems, wisdom teeth that squeeze into too-tight spaces can make brushing and flossing a challenge, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. So sometimes it’s prudent to remove wisdom teeth before they become a problem.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons says wisdom teeth should be monitored closely to prevent pain, infection, bleeding, and swelling. Instead of remaining constantly vigilant, some patients choose to have their wisdom teeth removed before they damage tooth roots and cause the formation of cysts and gum infections.
Wisdom teeth are more easily removed when their roots are less damaged, and the jawbone is less dense. That’s why extraction is easier if you’re younger than 25 years old.
If your wisdom teeth have grown through your gums, you’ll typically require only a local anesthetic for your extraction procedure. Impacted wisdom teeth, however, require oral surgery that includes an incision that gives the dentist access to the trapped tooth, so sedation is necessary to make you comfortable.
If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, make an appointment with one of our dentists by calling 425-746-6090 or by using our online scheduling tool.