Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure many young adults undergo to prevent or alleviate problems with this third set of molars. There are many instances where adults have these teeth extracted as well. Patients often wonder whether they need to have their wisdom teeth removed if the teeth are not causing noticeable problems or if discomfort is intermittent. Many oral surgeons recommend early removal to prevent complications and promote better oral health.
What Are Common Problems with Wisdom Teeth?
Common problems with wisdom teeth include:
- Impaction: Teeth trapped beneath the gums are considered impacted and may develop infections or cysts around the tooth or root that can become painful and damage other teeth. The molar may also be partially impacted, meaning only some of the tooth is visible above the gums. This can make keeping the tooth clean impossible and increase the risk of decay. Wisdom teeth that are fully or partially impacted usually require extraction.
- Angled Teeth: It is very common for wisdom teeth to grow at an angle. The jaw is often too small to accommodate this final set of molars, and the lack of space means the teeth cannot erupt properly and may crowd existing teeth, pushing them out of place. They may also damage the crown or root of adjacent molars because of the angle at which the wisdom teeth are facing and where they are positioned in the jaw.
- Strong Roots: The roots of the wisdom teeth continue to get longer and stronger over time. It is easier to remove the teeth during the teenage years or early 20s because the roots are not fully formed or anchored into the jaw. It becomes more complex in older adults because the bone has hardened around the tooth roots, holding them firmly in place. This is another reason Dr. Bennett recommends extraction earlier rather than later, although wisdom teeth removal can be performed on patients of any age.
- Swollen Gums: The molars may not be causing pain, but they may stimulate swelling in the gums. This can cause discomfort because the gums are inflamed and feel tight. Patients may also develop gum disease due to bacteria trapped around the impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth.
- Cysts and Tumors: When a tooth remains impacted in bone over time, the follicle around the tooth may start to undergo pathological changes, such as the formation of cysts or tumors in the jaw bone. Such conditions, if left untreated, may grow in size and become destructive to surrounding bone, teeth, and other tissues. In extreme instances, large areas of the jaw may need to be removed and reconstructed.
For these reasons, many patients prefer to have the procedure done sooner rather than later to recover and return to their normal routine, eliminating problems before they can begin.
Determining Whether to Have Wisdom Teeth Extracted
It is often recommended to have wisdom teeth removed before complications occur, especially if the patient has a small jaw or the teeth are not coming in vertically. Schedule a consultation at Glacial Sands OMS at (219) 964-4321 to learn more.