Wisdom teeth removal has become fairly routine. In fact, it’s almost a rite of passage for many teens. But is the removal of these teeth a must? When and why should they be removed?
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars at the back of the mouth. Most people have a total of four: two on the bottom and two on the top. They got their name because they come in during one’s teen years, at the point when we make the shift to wise old adulthood. Or so they say…
When they grow in straight and healthy, wisdom teeth give you more strength to chew. Often, though, the jaw does not have for these teeth and they grow impacted. This means they grow sideways into the other molars. This may happen while they are still under the gums or after they come through the gums part of the way.
This state of affairs can cause problems later in life, such as:
- Other teeth may get crowded or damaged
- It can be hard to reach or clean the poorly aligned teeth
- The site of partial eruption is at greater risk for bacterial infection
- Cysts (fluid-filled sacs) can develop and cause tissue or bone damage around wisdom teeth that don’t come through the gum
So is it necessary to remove wisdom teeth? The answer is: probably. Unless they’ve grown straight, are aligned properly, and are easy to clean, it’s generally a good idea to have them removed.
If an extraction needs to be performed, expect the following:
Whether a gum incision may be needed will depend on how the teeth are aligned. If it is needed, dental anesthesia, possible sedation, pain medication, or stitches will be used.
Some impacted teeth are taken out piece by piece to help make sure not too much bone is removed as well. Recovery times vary, but in most cases, people are back to normal chewing in two weeks or less.
Of course, even if your wisdom teeth do grow under ideal conditions, they might still need to be removed later in life. If they’re not cared for, they may become plaque magnets and an entry point for decay.