Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. There are some people that have enough room in their mouth to accommodate all wisdom teeth in the right place; others never develop them and some people have them so deeply impacted that it is riskier to take them out than to leave them there. The problem arises when there’s not enough room but they still want to show up. Since there is not enough room in the jaw, they have to squeeze between the last molar and the jaw bone and get stuck partially showing in a very difficult position.
The now exposed wisdom tooth pushes on the gum tissue around it causing inflammation and creating a pocket that is very challenging to keep clean for the patient and in most cases even for the dental professional. The pocket around the tooth gets filled with food debris that get infected causing an abscess. This leads to further compression by the molars in the other arch and an escalating discomfort and inability to function properly. Other problems associated with wisdom teeth are bone loss, root damage to neighbor teeth, shifting and bite changes from pressure.
Most dental offices set up time in their schedule for emergencies, the problem is that an infected wisdom tooth is rarely a quick procedure and not all dental offices have the necessary equipment to determine if it is safe to remove the offending tooth without causing harm to neighbor structures. Because of this, the patient is usually sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and a referral to an Oral Surgeon.
To avoid this kind of scenario, it is important to evaluate the wisdom teeth since about age 14. Sometimes we can detect problems from an early age. The ideal time to remove wisdom teeth is as late teens or early 20s. Usually at this age, the bone around wisdom teeth is not dense enough and the roots haven’t completed its development allowing for a more predictable procedure and much shorter post-operative healing process. There are more risks associated with removing wisdom teeth once the roots have finished growing.
There is never a good time to get wisdom teeth removed, but based on my experience, they mostly decide to flare up at the worse time forcing patients to miss days of school or work. Make sure you arrange for it to happen on your terms.
A wisdom teeth screening is an essential part of the comprehensive exam for everyone but especially for patients in the described age range. If you have questions regarding this or any other dental surgery needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.