Wisdom teeth removal can provide significant benefits for many patients, which is why it’s commonly recommended for those whose third molars have recently emerged. During young adulthood, the wisdom teeth roots tend to be less developed, making removal a more straightforward procedure.
While wisdom teeth extraction is common, the question for many patients is, does it need to be done? And the answer is, it depends.
At Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center in Oakland and San Francisco, California, Brian Kang, DDS, and his team use state-of-the-art techniques to evaluate wisdom teeth and perform extractions when needed. If you’re wondering what to do about your wisdom teeth, here are six times when wisdom teeth extraction is almost certainly the best option.
Impaction means your wisdom teeth haven’t emerged or erupted completely from the gum. Sometimes, a tooth is completely trapped under the gum; other times, only a part of the tooth is visible, while the remainder is under the gum.
Impacted wisdom teeth are extremely difficult to clean and care for, making them much more prone to cavities and infections. Impactions may also increase the risk of cavities in the tooth, along with a slight increase in the risk of cyst or tumor formation.
Impacted wisdom teeth also are associated with an increased risk of soft tissue infections, including a condition called pericoronitis. These infections can spread to other areas of your mouth, including the underlying bone.
Since they’re more difficult to care for, wisdom teeth are also more likely to develop cavities. Food particles tend to lodge around the gum line surrounding wisdom teeth, resulting in bacterial buildup. Eventually, these bacteria eat away at the tooth material, exposing the softer interior part of the tooth and causing a cavity.
Wisdom teeth emerge last, once all your other teeth are already in place. if your mouth is on the smaller side, there simply may not be enough room to accommodate these large third molars. In that case, your wisdom teeth might emerge out of the side of your gums, or they might emerge in odd angles that make it difficult to bite or chew normally.
Wisdom teeth can affect your other teeth in different ways. If a tooth is impacted, the pressure it exerts on your neighboring tooth can cause a lot of pain. Over time, your neighboring tooth can be shifted out of normal alignment, creating bite problems and possible infection. Plus, continual pressure can damage your tooth’s roots, eventually causing your tooth to fall out.
In addition to treating existing problems, wisdom teeth removal is also a good choice if you want to prevent future oral health problems involving these teeth. Because wisdom teeth are harder to clean and care for, they make great “hiding places” for decay- and infection-causing bacteria. Having your wisdom teeth removed before problems occur means you’ll have fewer potential oral health problems to think about — and treat — later on.
While wisdom teeth removal might not always be medically necessary, most people benefit from having these extra molars removed to prevent potential problems from happening in the future.
If you’re wondering if wisdom teeth extraction is the right move for your oral health, our team can help. Call our office most convenient for you or request an appointment online today.