Andra Mahoney, RDH BSDH
Why Should I Get My Wisdom Teeth Out?
Teeth are generally predictable. We know the first permanent teeth we will get are our first molars, also known as six year molars because we get them between six and seven years old. We know they will be bigger than all our other teeth. We know our maxillary central incisors, our two top front teeth, will come in about seven to eight years old and be a particular shape and size. Wisdom teeth; however, have a mind of their own! They come any anywhere from 16-25 years old, and sometimes don’t even stick to that time frame. They can be big as your other molars or small as your front teeth. They can come in properly and vertically or angled and horizontally. I have even seen X-rays of wisdom teeth going the wrong direction! They were headed back towards the jaw bone! Wisdom teeth do whatever they want.
Common recommendations for getting wisdom teeth removed:
Not enough room in your mouth.
Why above reasons are problems:
Many of us do not have the space in our mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth. Not enough room in our mouths can lead to the wisdom teeth causing pain. It can also cause problems in keeping those teeth clean. They are often hard to reach which means plaque is allowed to grow and cause cavities, tartar, and/or gum infections.
When teeth are impacted they are not coming in the proper direction. This could be anywhere from tilted to all the way horizontal. This can present a variety of issues. The major problem can be damage to other teeth. If the wisdom tooth is tilted and now running into the back of your second molars, this can cause damage, decay, and potential loss of that second molar. Impaction can also lead to cysts or infections around those teeth. This can lead to long term damage of your jaw bone.
When teeth are partially erupted, only part of the tooth has grown into the mouth, the other is still covered with gum tissue. This can be very hard to keep clean. It is a great spot for food impaction and plaque bacteria to collect. As mentioned before, this can lead to cavities, tartar, and/or gum disease.
Why get them out if they don’t hurt:
Size of wisdom teeth can play a big factor is health and recovery. Most dentists like to get them out after the crown is fully formed, but before the roots are complete. This helps extraction process to go easier and quicker, as well as reduces nerve damage. Wisdom teeth, particularly those on your bottom jaw, can grow around or next to the nerve that runs through your jaw. When the roots of wisdom teeth are allowed to grow close to that area, that increase risk for nerve damage upon extraction. This damage can be temporary or permanent.
Stage of jaw bone growth plays a factor. Dentist usually recommend wisdom teeth to come out in the teen years or early twenties. This is because your jaw bone is still growing. Once you hit your thirties, your bone is much more solid and recovery time after extractions can be longer and more difficult.
Why wait till it hurts? Get them out on your schedule. Spring break, summer vacation, fall break, long weekend, these are the best times for recovery. Don’t put yourself through tooth pain, its an awful experience, and one that is avoidable!
You’ve decided to get them out! Now what?
This is a great time for a chat with your dentist. They can help you determine the appropriate avenue for you.
Different ways to get them out can include:
Just getting numb – Your appointment will be pretty straight forward. The wisdom teeth may already be erupted and properly aligned. You are not very nervous about the appointment.
Nitrous and getting numb – Nitrous, or laughing gas, can be administered before the local anesthesia. This can help some people with anxiety. It is also good to help people relax if there is a little more work involved in getting out the wisdom teeth – they are partially erupted or completely unerupted.
IV Conscious Sedation – This is a great option for a more involved procedure or those that have very high anxiety. A dentist trained in this method, will administer medication through an IV that allows you to relax. You are able to respond to questions (Can you open wider? Are you doing ok? Can you turn to the left?), but you will not remember the procedure.
Oral Surgeon Specialists – In some cases the removal of the wisdom teeth may be very complicated. This can be due to position, age, nerve involvement, etc. You may then be referred to a specialist to handle this situation.
Whatever way and method can be tailored to your specific needs through exam, xrays, and a visit with your dentist.
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