By the time you become a teenager, your baby teeth have fallen out, and your permanent teeth are now in place. However, there is still one more set of teeth that can emerge in early adulthood. Wisdom teeth commonly emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. These teeth are located in the very back of your mouth, and oftentimes they are removed just as they start to erupt. You may not realize they are there until you start feeling pain from the wisdom teeth trying to erupt through your gums or coming in crooked and putting pressure on other teeth. The consequences of not getting your wisdom teeth removed can be more painful than the quick process of getting them out.
Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth?
Years ago, wisdom teeth were beneficial because they took the place of other molars that may have been lost. Today, dental care has improved, and many people maintain a full set of teeth into adulthood. Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that no longer serve many purposes. In fact, they often cause more problems because they are at risk for impaction, a condition in which the tooth is partially or fully trapped beneath the gums, other teeth, or both. Impaction increases the risks of bacterial infections, tooth decay, gum disease, and other harmful health conditions.
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
One of the major problems with wisdom teeth is that many people’s jaws are not large enough to accommodate them. There is not enough room for these molars to come in without affecting other teeth. Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure to remove them before they cause issues.
Some of the consequences of not having your wisdom teeth removed include:
- Jaw/Facial pain: As your wisdom teeth begin to shift and emerge, they can trigger pressure and pain in your jaw, ear, or side of your face. This can also be a sign of a gum infection.
- Infection: Because of where the wisdom teeth are located – and because they may not fully erupt through the gum – particles of food can get stuck in and around the teeth. These bacteria can spread infection not just along your gums but to the rest of your body.
- Cyst: A cyst may develop around the crown of the tooth if it gets caught under the gum and cannot fully emerge. This can cause damage to not only the tooth but also the bone.
- Tooth decay: Untreated infections can result in the surrounding teeth to begin to decay and weaken.
- Impaction: When wisdom teeth grow in at an angle or do not erupt fully through the gums, they are referred to as being impacted. Some people’s wisdom teeth emerge vertically without any problems, but many find that the teeth are coming in crooked and causing pain.
- Crowding: If there is not enough room in your jaw, or your wisdom teeth come in at an angle, your existing teeth can shift. Over time, this can change what was previously a beautiful, straight smile into one where teeth are crooked or unevenly spaced.
- Pericoronitis: In order for wisdom teeth to come in, they must break through the flap of gum behind your second set of molars. Sometimes as the tooth is emerging, the gum flap becomes inflamed and infected, which can create pain and other problems.
- Abnormal bite: When wisdom teeth come in at an awkward angle, the top and bottom teeth do not align correctly, and this can alter your bite and put stress on your jaw muscles.
When Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Your dentist will likely monitor the progression of your wisdom teeth during your annual exams and cleanings. Treating problems early on can prevent more serious consequences of not getting your wisdom teeth removed from occurring. If you have your wisdom teeth extracted as they are beginning to emerge, they may be easier to remove because the roots have not fully developed and anchored to the bone. However, they can be removed at any age, especially if you start experiencing discomfort.
- Swelling of the gums or face
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
- Decaying of nearby teeth
- Cysts under the gums
You may need to have an oral surgeon extract your wisdom teeth to prevent crowding and treat any infection or decay.
Schedule Wisdom Teeth Removal
If your wisdom teeth are starting to emerge or are causing problems, schedule a consultation at Coastal Virginia Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery to learn more about treatment options, including extraction.