Wisdom teeth, or third molars, include the four teeth that erupt at the end of your dental arch — one on each side of your lower jaw and one on each side of your upper jaw. Like your other adult teeth, wisdom teeth erupt on their own timeline, though they usually appear between the ages of 17-24.
Unfortunately, when wisdom teeth erupt, 28 permanent teeth are already in place, leaving little to no space for more. With no room to grow as they begin to emerge, wisdom teeth can trigger several oral health problems as they try to force their way onto a gumline that has no free space.
The extraction of wisdom teeth is usually advised when eruption begins because earlier removal is almost always easier. As you grow older, removal and healing become more difficult as the bones surrounding your teeth harden and tooth roots become stronger.
Your wisdom teeth are typically monitored during routine dental exams so removal can be recommended if necessary. In Jasper, Texas, dentist Eric R. Koch, DDS, and our team at Advanced Dental Care of East Texas provide comprehensive dental care that includes the in-office removal of wisdom teeth.
Dr. Koch evaluates the development of your wisdom teeth with a thorough examination and digital oral X-rays. If you’re like about 85% of individuals, you’ll have to remove your wisdom teeth to protect your oral health.
The recommendation to have your wisdom teeth extracted is often based on one or more of these five reasons:
It’s common to hear that wisdom teeth are impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth become stuck or completely hidden in your gums because there isn’t enough space to cut through gum tissue. Impacted wisdom teeth can develop at unusual angles, including horizontally.
Sometimes, an impacted wisdom tooth manages to partially emerge through the gum tissue. That can allow a flap of gum tissue to form over the partially visible tooth. Over time, the flap can collect food, bacteria, and plaque.
The collection of materials under the gum flap can result in pericoronitis, an oral infection associated with painful chewing, bad breath, swollen gums, and jaw and neck pain. Without treatment, the condition can worsen and cause jaw spasms, facial swelling, and enlarged lymph nodes, which can prevent normal swallowing and breathing.
As your wisdom teeth develop in your upper jaw, you may experience sinus problems. That can occur when the tooth roots rub against your sinuses. Without removal of your wisdom teeth, congestion, sinus pain, and headaches can occur.
When wisdom teeth are allowed to fully emerge onto your gumline, they often push your other teeth from their normal positions. The shifting can cause misalignment, resulting in pain, an abnormal bite, and difficulty speaking and eating.
As your wisdom teeth continue to force their way into spaces where the room doesn’t exist, they can cause teeth to become crooked and damaged. When that occurs, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct the misalignment even if the wisdom teeth are removed.
Your wisdom teeth develop in a sac within your jawbone. If a wisdom tooth only partially erupts, the remaining sac can fill with fluid, causing a cyst to develop. The cyst can produce pain and cause damage to your jawbone and the roots and nerves of nearby teeth if it is left in place.
Though rare, a benign tumor can develop, often requiring the removal of bone and tissue to treat it.
When wisdom teeth partially erupt or emerge at irregular angles, they’re difficult to reach for proper cleaning. Since they’re located so far back in your mouth, it can be harder to reach them.
Without proper dental hygiene, erupted wisdom teeth, like all adult teeth, can develop cavities and gum disease, increasing your risk of tooth loss.
Find out more about the reasons that may necessitate the removal of your wisdom teeth. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.