Monday, March 14, 2011

Wisdom Teeth: To remove... or not to remove?

Wisdom teeth- quick facts:
  • Also known at third set of molars
  • Come in between the ages of 17 and 23
  • Majority of population will have, or should have wisdom teeth removed to prevent problems and pain
According to the ADA, Wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. Often, however, problems develop that require their removal. When the jaw isn't large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, they can become impacted (unable to come in or misaligned). Wisdom teeth may grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.

Extraction of wisdom teeth is generally recommended when:
  • Wisdom teeth only partially erupt. This leaves an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection. Pain, swelling, jaw stiffness and general illness can result.
  • There is a chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth will damage adjacent teeth.
  • A cyst (fluid-filled sac) forms, destroying surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots.
  • The jaw isn't large enough to allow all the wisdom teeth to fully erupt in an alignment that is useful for chewing and crushing food.
Patients should ask the dentist about the health and positioning of their wisdom teeth. The dentist may make a recommendation for removal. 
Your dentist may recommend that your wisdom teeth be extracted even before problems develop. This is done to avoid a more painful or more complicated extraction that might have to be done a few years later. Removal is easier in young people, when the wisdom teeth roots are not yet fully developed and the bone is less dense. In older people, recovery and healing time tend to be longer.
Give us a call today if you or a loved one would like a wisdom teeth evaluation.  We would love to help!  It is always best to keep an eye on wisdom teeth, resolving issues before they cause problems and pain.

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