Should you have your wisdom teeth removed?
It’s summer! And summer break in a dental office means a lot of conversation about wisdom teeth. Most importantly, if or when wisdom teeth should come out.
Our wisdom teeth, aka, 3rd molars, are the last to come in. They usually erupt between ages 17-25 and are the teeth with the most variation in shape, size and position. True fact – not everyone ends up getting wisdom teeth! If the wisdom teeth come up properly, they can help with chewing and have little impact on your oral health.
Most wisdom teeth do not come in properly.
Wisdom teeth often erupt at an angle, or don’t fully erupt. This is because many people’s mouths are not large enough to handle the third set of molars. These “impacted” teeth create the perfect environment for food and bacteria because these nooks and crannies are hard to reach, and therefore, impossible to clean (even by your hygienist!). This can lead to infection and tooth decay and also can also cause gum and bone problems for the molars in front of your wisdom teeth.
The American Dental Association lists the following as reasons to have your wisdom teeth removed:
- Damage to neighboring teeth
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)
Removal of wisdom teeth is not for everyone.
When we weigh the risk vs. benefit in removing wisdom teeth, it’s helpful to understand that a young person is probably in better general health, is much less likely to have post-surgical complications, and will also heal faster than older folks.
This is why the tendency is to recommend extractions on young people. If you are lucky enough to live to 90 years old, it would be a real hassle (and risk) to go through removing infected wisdom teeth.
We’re always happy to answer your questions. Let’s discuss whether removing your wisdom teeth is the right choice for you.