As you grow into adulthood, your baby teeth fall away and are replaced by your adult teeth that will last you your entire life. However, when you reach your late teens or early 20’s, you will have to deal with an extra set of molars called wisdom teeth. These appear on the back of your jaw, behind your last set of molars. These teeth cause discomfort and overcrowding for the average person, and the consequences of foregoing wisdom tooth removal far outweigh any conveniences of leaving them in. In these cases, having them removed is a necessary step.
Do You Need Your Wisdom Teeth?
Professional research has shown that human jaws have narrowed over time, which would mean that people long ago did not have to worry about removing their wisdom teeth. Other theories propose that, due to historically bad dental hygiene standards, most humans would lose a set of molars or other teeth before reaching their 20’s. Thus, the teeth would shift to accommodate the presence of a new set of molars. Whatever the case is, modern dentistry can more than easily preserve a healthy set of teeth well past early adulthood, thus eliminating the need for wisdom teeth. As a result, you do not need your wisdom teeth as long as you properly take care of the rest of your teeth.
Why Do They Need to be Removed?
Wisdom teeth can cause serious problems for your health and wellbeing if left to grow unchecked. There is often no room for wisdom teeth in the jaws of most modern people. Thus, if the wisdom teeth are not dealt with before they grow in fully, they can cause a lot of problems as they fight for space.
What Are the Potential Consequences if I Do Not Have Them Removed?
The following is a basic list of potential problems that can arise if you neglect to promptly remove your wisdom teeth.
The most common and most easily understood problem for wisdom teeth is overcrowding. Overcrowding simply means there is not enough room for all the teeth in your jaw. If there is not enough room for all your teeth to fit next to each other, your teeth will soon begin to shift, resulting in crooked teeth.
Impaction is not a guaranteed problem, but it can be a significant issue if it arises. A tooth is considered impacted if it does not fully erupt through the gums, and it comes in at an angle and could emerge partially into another tooth. Even if impaction does not occur, a tooth coming in crooked is a painful process that can lead to a less than pleasing smile.
As a tooth emerges, food particles and other things can get stuck in the still-emerging tooth cavities. These can become breeding grounds for bacteria and cause moderate or even severe oral infections. There is no guarantee that you will get a tooth infection, but it may be a risk if you have poor oral hygiene.
Pain and Discomfort
The process of wisdom teeth emerging is a painful one. Most adults probably do not have a great memory of their time teething as a small child, but most parents will know very well the discomfort that teeth emerging through fresh gums can cause. Wisdom teeth are adult teeth emerging through gums that have not had a tooth socket beforehand. This process can cause painful pressure in the jaw and face.
If the wisdom teeth do not come in perfectly, it can affect your bite pattern. Teeth pushed forward can cause a moderate to severe over- or under-bite. This irregular bite pattern can be caused as wisdom teeth push other teeth out of the way. If your wisdom teeth are left unchecked, there is no way to predict what your smile or bite will look like.
Healthy tooth development involves a necessary breaking of the gumline. However, the emergence of new teeth can mean that parts of your gums are exposed or left damaged but unbroken. This impaction can cause a moderate or even severe infection of the gums around the erupting tooth. Impaction can result in a painful condition known as pericoronitis, which can complicate your wisdom tooth removal procedure.
Ruined Dental Work
Many people have years and years of dental work behind them by the time they reach adulthood. Braces, retainers, and other treatments can result in a large investment into years of dental work that have painstakingly built a good smile for you. Wisdom teeth emerging can cause a significant amount of damage to a once-perfect smile in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Can Wisdom Tooth Removal Prevent These Issues?
Our oral surgeons will help monitor the growth and emergence of wisdom teeth as you approach adulthood. Wisdom tooth removal is a preventative measure that can eliminate the risk of the above problems. In addition, wisdom tooth removal is a tried-and-true dental procedure that our doctors perform safely and expediently.
If you need your wisdom teeth removed, reach out to Somerset Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Group in Somerset and Hunterdon County or a dental provider near you.