Many of our patients need to know if they should keep their wisdom teeth or have them removed. This third set of molars is something that can be rather perplexing for many people depending on how late they erupt. For some people, the wisdom teeth never erupt properly. We are happy to answer questions during a consultation in our office.
In the meantime, here are some basic questions that we hear on a regular basis and our answers to them.
Why do people have wisdom teeth?
Historically, this third set of molars was likely to be necessary as people may have suffered early tooth loss. Without the type of oral hygiene and dentistry we have today, it is highly possible that our ancestors may have lost their first or second set of molars either before or shortly after the third set came in.
These molars would have been important for being able to properly chew food. However, the third molars are no longer necessary for most people.
When do they normally erupt?
This exact timeframe is going to vary from person to person and some people never have their wisdom teeth erupt. However, they typically will grow in after the age of 12 and well into adulthood.
Is it possible to keep them?
Absolutely. If the wisdom teeth grow correctly and are not placing pressure on the adjacent teeth, there may be no need to remove them. However, this rarely happens.
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
In most cases, there is not enough room in the mouth to allow for them to grow in straight. Instead, they're likely to partially erupt, become impacted or put pressure on the surrounding teeth. This is problematic for several reasons. If they only partially erupt or are impacted, areas will be created where food and plaque can become trapped, creating the likelihood of them becoming infected along with the adjacent molar.
Even if this does not happen, but there is not sufficient room for them, they can push the other teeth forward. This can lead to changes in a person's appearance and be especially detrimental for anyone who has paid to straighten their teeth with orthodontics.
How are they removed?
If they grow correctly, it may be possible for a general dentist to use dental pliers to extract the wisdom teeth. Since this does not happen frequently, most people end up visiting an oral surgeon to have them surgically removed. This is done while the patient is comfortably sleeping so that there is no pain or discomfort during the procedure.
What is the recovery process like?
If they are removed surgically, there is going to be soreness and swelling for several days. Patients will need to eat a restricted diet for a couple weeks while the gums heal. With proper at-home care, it is possible to recover quickly.
How do I know if my wisdom teeth need to be removed?
The best thing to do is schedule a consultation and examination with our office. We can manually inspect them and take X-rays to determine if they should remain in the mouth or need to be extracted. Some signs to watch for at home include pain when they are erupting or pressure on the teeth afterward.
Take the next step
If you want to know if your wisdom teeth should be removed or if they need to be removed surgically, give us a call. We will be happy to make a recommendation after completing the examination.