For many young adults, having the wisdom teeth extracted, or removed, is just part of growing up. High school students can look forward to prom, graduation, and for many, undergoing oral surgery to remove the third set of molars, commonly called the wisdom teeth. While wisdom teeth extraction was once something people had performed to prevent any future issues from occurring, not everyone needs to have their final set of molars taken out.
Your dentist or an oral surgeon will examine your mouth and let you know if removing the wisdom teeth is the best option for you. If the teeth aren’t removed right away, your dentist will continue to monitor the teeth to make sure they don’t start causing problems further down the road.
The Basics of Wisdom Teeth
Although many people think that they have all of their adult teeth by the time they hit their early teens, one final set of teeth isn’t scheduled to come in until a person is nearly a full-grown adult. The third molars are often called the wisdom teeth because they typically don’t appear until a person is at least 17. In some cases, the final set of teeth doesn’t start to break through until a person is in his or her 20s.
Since they’ve been able to speak and chew without any issues for nearly two decades, most people don’t need their wisdom teeth. But the size of the human jaw has become smaller over time, so leaving the teeth alone can often lead to trouble.
One of the major reasons a dentist might recommend you see an oral surgeon to remove the wisdom teeth is that there is the risk that the teeth will become impacted. Teeth become impacted when they get stuck in the bone or gums and don’t fully erupt. A tooth becomes stuck when there isn’t enough space in the jaw for it to erupt. It can also become impacted if it twists or shifts out of position as it emerges.
In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth cause no symptoms. But, they do increase a person’s risk for infection. Infected teeth can cause pain, bad breath or swelling. There is also the possibility that the impacted teeth will cause the other teeth in the mouth to shift position.
Increased Risk for Gum Troubles
Impacted wisdom teeth can increase a person’s risk for gum disease. When the teeth partially erupt, the gum tissue can be affected. A flap of gum might form over the impacted tooth, and bits of food can get stuck in it, creating an attractive environment for bacteria. The impacted tooth might also cause gum swelling or inflammation. Even if the tooth is able to fully emerge, it might be so far back in a person’s mouth that he or she has trouble cleaning it and the gums around it.
If you had braces in your early teens, letting the wisdom teeth come in can undo the work of the braces. There is the risk that the final molars will push your teeth around, changing their alignment. The newly emerging teeth can also create bite issues, so that you are no longer able to bite down properly or so that you develop an overbite.
Removing the Teeth
Even if you have no visible signs of impacted teeth or gum disease, your dentist might decide that removing the teeth is the best way to go and refer you to an oral surgeon. Usually, the earlier the teeth are extracted, the better, as the teeth will be less likely to be firmly in place inside the mouth and the extraction will be easier to do. Healing is also easier when the teeth are taken out earlier.
If you are not comfortable with the idea of having surgery to extract teeth that aren’t displaying any obvious symptoms, your dentist might agree to wait. He or she will keep a close eye on your third molars, X-raying them and examining the back gums at each exam. If any issues do arise, he or she will more likely than not recommend oral surgery to take out the teeth.
Wisdom teeth extraction and oral surgery are now being offered at Gallardo and Lamas Periodontics and Implant Dentistry. If you are worried about the state of your wisdom teeth or want to learn more about the process of removing them, contact the Miami practice today by calling (305) 447-1447.