"Should I get my wisdom teeth removed?" There are many life circumstances that could be leading you to ask this question. Perhaps you are between 16 and 19 years old and you have heard that now is a good time to get them checked. Or perhaps you are experiencing pain around your wisdom teeth and you want to know what your options are. Whatever the case may be, whether or not you get your wisdom teeth removed is your choice. That in mind, there are a few common problems that dentists look out for, for which they strongly recommend wisdom teeth removal.
What Are My Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the last of three molars to break through your gums in the back of your mouth. This typically happens between ages 17 and 21. If you have all your wisdom teeth, you will have four, one each on your upper and lower jaws, right and left. It is likely that you will not know how many wisdom teeth you have until you receive x-rays. Sometimes wisdom teeth are missing and sometimes they never break through your gums because they are stuck in your jaw, something dentists call "impacted."
Should I Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Your dentist may recommend that you get your wisdom teeth removed for the following reasons:
- Your wisdom teeth are impacted, meaning that your jaw was not large enough for them to come in and they are stuck there, or they have come in at an odd angle and they are stuck against your other teeth.
- Your wisdom teeth have come in, but only partially.
- Your wisdom teeth are infected or causing pain for some other reason.
- Your wisdom teeth, in general, may cause problems in the future, and your dentist recommends preventative removal.
Many dentists recommend wisdom teeth removal, even if they are not causing problems at present, simply because they may cause problems in the future. It is especially easier for patients under 20 years old to get their wisdom teeth removed because their bones are softer and they heal much faster at that age. If this is you, whether or not you get your wisdom teeth removed is your decision. You can read more about the problems that can be caused by not getting your wisdom teeth removed below.
If you are older than 30 years old and your wisdom teeth are not causing any problems, you likely do not need to get your wisdom teeth removed. Patients older than this usually do not experience any issues with their wisdom teeth for the rest of their lives.
What Problems Can Be Caused By Not Getting My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you elect to not get your wisdom teeth removed, you may experience the following consequences depending on your situation:
- If you have impacted wisdom teeth and do not get them removed, a cyst could develop around them and cause short or long-term, permanent damage your other teeth and jaw bones.
- If your wisdom teeth have come in only partially and you do not get them removed, your gums could become infected as food and bacteria get caught between the gum tissue and the teeth.
- If your wisdom teeth are infected or in pain and you do not get them removed, the infection could only worsen to the point of becoming a dental emergency requiring oral surgery.
- If your wisdom teeth are not causing problems but you do not get them removed, they could develop any of the issues mentioned above or develop cavities or gum disease as wisdom teeth, in general, are very hard to reach with a toothbrush and floss.
Again, healthy wisdom teeth that have come in properly, do not interfere with your bite and are able to be cleaned easily in a daily routine do not need to be removed, particularly if you are over 30 years old.
If you think getting your wisdom teeth removed would be right for you, give us a call at South Anchorage Dental Center. We would love to get you in for an appointment where the dentist can take x-rays, examine your teeth, and provide a professional recommendation.