Do Wisdom Teeth Always Have to be Pulled?
It’s a rite of passage for many teenagers: wisdom tooth extraction. Most people are resigned to the procedure, complete with puffy face and milkshake diet. After all, doesn’t everyone have to have their wisdom teeth pulled? Well, that’s mostly true. Roughly 85% of adults have undergone the procedure to keep their teeth healthy. But is it always necessary?
REASONS TO HAVE THEM REMOVED
There are plenty of good reasons that keeping your wisdom teeth might not be the healthiest choice. Every person’s mouth is different, but here are a few common issues people run into:
There is often not enough room in the jaw to accommodate more molars. If this is the case, the wisdom teeth will push on the molars next to them, which can push all the other teeth out of alignment, like a set of tightly packed dominoes. This causes problems with your bite and can even cause damage to the teeth, particularly the ones the wisdom teeth are pushing on.
If the space in the jaw is very small, the wisdom teeth can get trapped, and not come fully through the jaw. They can even be prevented from moving up at all. An opening in the gum provides a way for bacteria to get in, which can lead to infections, cysts, and even damage to the surrounding teeth and bone structure. Having the impacted teeth pressing against the roots of the other molars can lead to damage to the adjacent teeth. It’s often pretty painful, too.
Hard to keep clean
Even if the wisdom teeth are able to grow in fully, their position in the mouth makes it hard to reach them. It can be tricky to get your fingers far enough back in your mouth to floss them effectively, and there may not be enough room to maneuver a toothbrush very well. Without enough space to properly care for them you run a higher risk of developing cavities or gum disease.
Without wisdom tooth extraction, it’s possible for the roots of the upper wisdom teeth to extend into the maxillary sinus cavity, causing inflammation and pain. This can cause sinus issues and headaches. Not all cases will do this, but wisdom teeth have to be pulled if they threaten respiratory function.
REASONS TO KEEP THEM
Some people do not have to have their wisdom teeth pulled. If it’s possible to avoid wisdom tooth extraction, it is worth considering. Here are some signs that your wisdom teeth are just fine where they are:
Wisdom teeth that don’t cause pain or damage to the structures around them are generally healthy. If they don’t hurt or show signs of infection, then it’s a good sign that they have had enough room to erupt and stay healthy.
If your wisdom teeth are healthy and they don’t cause any of the damaging effects above like overcrowding and uncleanliness, then there’s no reason you should need wisdom tooth extraction.
WHY DENTISTS ALMOST ALWAYS RECOMMEND WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTION
If it’s possible to keep them, then why do dentists usually suggest that you do end up having your wisdom teeth pulled? Although you may be interested in the prospect of avoiding extraction, they have some reasons to lean toward getting them out.
To avoid problems before they happen
It is difficult to tell if there will be enough room for wisdom teeth to grow in fully, and removal gets more complicated once they are impacted. To avoid possible complications, dentists often opt to remove them instead of waiting to see.
Better to do while you’re young
Younger people generally have an easier time recovering from medical procedures. They heal faster and usually have fewer complications. Most dentists recommend to patients who do want to have their wisdom teeth pulled that they do so before turning 20 years old.
Easier to remove earlier
When the wisdom teeth are first growing in, the roots and bone surrounding them are less formed. It’s easier to remove the teeth while these structures are softer, causing less inflammation and pain.
If you’re wondering whether your wisdom teeth have to be pulled, you should have them looked at by dental professionals who are able to answer all your questions. At Peak OMS, our experienced dental surgeons are extremely knowledgeable about the issues involved. We can help you figure out the best course of action to keep your teeth strong and healthy. For more information, contact us.
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