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Does Everyone Need Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Does Everyone Need Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the four teeth that develop at the end of each dental arch. You will likely have one wisdom tooth on each side of your upper jaw and one on each side of your lower jaw. 

Wisdom teeth commonly appear between the ages of 17-24. The fact that wisdom teeth erupt at a more mature age is the origin of their name. 

Wisdom teeth can be problematic because most people have 28 permanent teeth by the time wisdom teeth appear, so there’s usually no room for four new teeth. As a result, about 85% of people have their wisdom teeth removed.

It’s usually advised to have your wisdom teeth extracted when they first appear because the removal and healing pose fewer complications at the earliest stages. As wisdom teeth develop, their roots form and the bones surrounding your teeth harden, making extraction and recovery more complex. 

While this is the typical progression of wisdom teeth, everyone’s teeth develop differently. Your wisdom teeth may not require extraction if they don’t cause discomfort, difficulty with dental hygiene, or pose a problem to the alignment and function of your existing teeth. 

The development of your wisdom teeth is typically monitored during twice-annual dental exams. In Jasper, Texas, dentist Eric R. Koch, DDS, and our team at Advanced Dental Care of East Texas provide comprehensive dental services that include wisdom teeth extraction when appropriate. 

By observing the position of your wisdom teeth and the structure of your mouth, we advise you whether your wisdom teeth are a potential concern or if they can remain without affecting your oral health. 

Conditions when wisdom teeth require extraction

When they start to erupt, wisdom teeth often cause inflammation, pain, or other oral issues that make extraction the preferred treatment. The removal of wisdom teeth is typically recommended under the following circumstances:

Impacted wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth are unable to erupt through the gum tissue because of insufficient space. That leaves each tooth to position itself wherever room is available, which can result in growth at an unusual angle or horizontal eruption. 

While an impacted wisdom tooth can’t fully break through the gum tissue, it may manage to partially erupt. Under these conditions, a flap of gum tissue can develop over the portion of the tooth that has pushed through. 

The extra flap can create ideal conditions for collecting debris and bacteria, resulting in a painful infection called pericoronitis. Symptoms of pericoronitis can include a range of painful oral conditions including swollen gums, pus discharge, painful chewing, and neck and jaw pain. Jaw spasms, facial swelling, and swollen lymph nodes can develop in the advanced stages of the infection. 

Impacted wisdom teeth can also occur without any accompanying symptoms, which is why maintaining a schedule of regular dental exams is essential. These visits allow our team to identify impacted wisdom teeth and advise extraction before they create problems. 

Misaligned teeth

When you don’t have enough room to accommodate wisdom teeth, they can force your existing teeth out of alignment. As your wisdom teeth gradually emerge, they create misalignment issues for both upper and lower dental arches. That can create a significant setback if you’ve previously corrected an imperfect smile with braces. 

Misaligned teeth can cause an irregular bite, pain, difficulties speaking and eating, and embarrassment. They can also make it difficult to keep all your teeth clean, increasing your risk of tooth decay.

Cyst formation

When an impacted wisdom tooth partially erupts, a cyst or tumor may result from a buildup of fluid in the jawbone and soft tissue over the tooth. While these structures are usually benign, they can damage adjacent bone, teeth, and other structures if left untreated. 

Sinus problems

As impacted wisdom teeth develop, they grow roots that can irritate your sinuses. As a result, you may experience congestion, sinus pain, and pressure. 

Conditions when wisdom teeth may be able to remain in place

You may be advised that there’s no need to extract your wisdom teeth if one of the following conditions applies:

Learn more about the reasons for having wisdom teeth removed and when they can remain in place. Call our office today to schedule an appointment or reach out to our team online. 

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