Wisdom teeth don’t make you wise, they give you problems. An article published by The New York Times in 2011 reports that 60-70% of patients who still have their wisdom teeth will eventually have trouble with them, though data on the subject is somewhat limited.
At Wedgewood Dental, with offices in Rolla and Salem, Missouri, Dr. Linda K. Westmoreland and her staff believe there are many benefits to removing wisdom teeth for most of their patients. As many people aren’t aware of how complicated this third set of molars can be, we’ve put together this guide so you’ll understand if and why we recommend that yours need to be extracted.
For most people, their wisdom teeth come in between ages 17-25. By that time, your other 28 teeth have already staked their claim in your mouth, often making it tight for four new, large teeth to fit in comfortably. Removing the new teeth before they crowd out the existing ones keeps your bite intact and your teeth healthy.
Impaction is the most common reason for extracting wisdom teeth. It comes in three types:
Soft tissue impaction: gum tissue doesn’t retract
Partial bony impaction: tooth erupts partway through the gum
Complete bony impaction: tooth remains embedded in the jawbone
In all cases, extraction is necessary. An embedded tooth can cause pain and infection and lead to gum irritation and bone loss. For a partially erupted tooth, it’s easy for food to become trapped between your tooth and gum, making it more difficult to clean the entire area. Tooth decay and infection become highly likely.
Even if your wisdom teeth come in fully and straight, they’re still difficult to clean; and they can crowd out the existing molars, leading to bite problems and pain. Extracting these teeth early can prevent future problems.
Other good reasons for extractions include:
Perhaps the best reason for proactively removing wisdom teeth and doing it while you’re still in your 20s is that after age 30, patients tend to have more problems with these teeth. That’s because the roots grow longer as you age, potentially impinging on the sensory nerve in your jaw. Your jawbone itself becomes more dense, making the tooth harder to remove.
In addition, as you get older your rate of healing slows down, making recovery more difficult; and there’s a higher risk of complications such as infection.
According to the American Dental Association, you should definitely make an appointment with your dentist to discuss wisdom teeth extraction if you experience any of the following issues:
You also may want to discuss removing your wisdom teeth even if you’re asymptomatic. As we’ve said, all your teeth and your overall oral health benefit when those last molars are gone.
Dr. Westmoreland extracts your wisdom teeth in the comfort of her office. You’ll be given an anesthetic — local, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), or IV sedation, depending on your preference and her estimation of how complicated the procedure will be — and she either removes the tooth with forceps or cuts into your gum to access the tooth root and pull it out from the side of your gum.
She’ll give you specific aftercare instructions, but two of the main points are not to drink with a straw or smoke for at least 48-72 hours after the procedure, as both can dislodge the blood clot that forms in the empty space and cause dry socket syndrome, an extremely painful condition.
You may have some minor bleeding and pain on the day after the surgery, but you should start to feel better within a couple of days. In the meantime, you can use over-the-counter medications for pain and limit swelling by holding an ice pack to your cheek several times a day.
If you want to learn more about the wisdom of wisdom teeth extraction, give Wedgewood Dental a call at the location most convenient for you or schedule a consultation online today.
713 Salem Avenue Suite A, Rolla MO 65401
MON 7:30 am - 3:30 pm
WED - THU 7:30 am - 3:30 pm
FRI - SUN Closed