Q: My dentist said I needed to have my wisdom teeth taken out. But they don’t hurt, so why remove them?
A: There are a great deal of opinions of whether wisdom teeth should be removed and when. It looks like we humans are evolving past wisdom teeth. Most of us do not seem to have enough room in the jaw for a third set of molars.
The term wisdom teeth refer to the third molars, last teeth to erupt. They usually appear in young adults between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth often become trapped behind or under the second molars. When this happens, the tooth is impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are not necessarily a problem, however, there are several issues that can arise from them.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding to keep or remove your wisdom teeth.
1. Improper Hygiene
Position of the wisdom teeth may affect the ability to maintain good oral hygiene.
Because wisdom teeth are in the back of the jaw, they can be extremely difficult to reach with a toothbrush or floss, therefore causing plaque and bacteria to build, leading to deterioration. Wisdom teeth decay easily and are impossible to repair.
Buildup of plaque and bacteria causes gum inflammation that can spread, putting other teeth at risk.
2. Damage to adjacent teeth
A wisdom tooth may force a lot of pressure onto the tooth in front of it, causing erosion and loosening of the neighboring tooth. This neighboring tooth may even break down to the point that it requires removal.
3. Infection of surrounding tissue
Infection and abscess can possibly develop around the wisdom tooth. This is more likely to happen if the wisdom tooth partially breaks through the gums, allowing bacteria to enter. There are numerous situations of wisdom teeth protruding towards the cheek, causing accidental biting of the cheek when eating.
4. Orthodontic purpose
An orthodontist may recommend you a wisdom teeth removal to let your braces work better, by allowing room for the other teeth to move easier. Or an orthodontist could recommend removing wisdom teeth after your braces to avoid pushing the other teeth into a crooked position.
Impacted wisdom teeth have the potential to form cysts around them. Most of these growths are benign, but also destructive to the bone, which may compromise the stability of the teeth next to it.
The best age for wisdom teeth extraction is between 18 and 24 because the roots are less established and bone less dense.
Younger people typically heal faster with fewer complications than older adults.