When Should Wisdom Teeth be Removed?

Are your wisdom teeth causing problems, or are X-rays show they could be? You'll now need to decide if they should come out

When Should Wisdom teeth be removed? Deciding to remove or retain third molars in individuals involves a search for the most favourable ratio of risk to benefit.  Generally, it is best to have impacted wisdom teeth removed in your late teens to early-twenties

Wisdom teeth or third molars, are the third and final set of molar teeth to erupt.  Like your tonsils and appendix, your wisdom teeth are vestigial leftovers from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who had smaller brains, bigger jaws and diets that required more chewing. 

They usually erupt in the late teens to early twenties and notoriously cause problems as most people do not have enough room in their mouth to accommodate them.  This results in the wisdom teeth trying to erupt at the wrong angle, and becoming “Impacted”, remaining trapped under the gum and bone, or only half erupted.  

Impacted wisdom tooth just poking through the gum
Impacted wisdom tooth just poking through the gum

An impacted tooth can be painless, and you may not even realise it's there.  However, when an impacted wisdom tooth tries to erupt, the overlying gum may swell and cause pain, which may also be felt in nearby teeth or the ear on that side.

A partially erupted tooth can collect food and other debris, which can lead to gum swelling and an infection called pericoronitis. If untreated, this infection can spread toward the throat or into the neck.  Impacted wisdom teeth can also cause problems in the neighbouring molar if food is trapped, you can develop decay this adjacent molar.  Impacted teeth may also cause cysts and other benign (harmless) jaw tumors.  For many people the solution is to have them removed to prevent further dental problems.

Wisdom tooth has caused unfixable decay in the tooth in front
Decaying tooth in front of the wisdom tooth - Bad news!

When Should Wisdom teeth be removed?

Deciding to remove or retain wisdom teeth in individuals involves a search for the most favourable ratio of risk to benefit.  Generally, it is best to have impacted wisdom teeth removed in your late teens to early-twenties. 

The reason is, they are easier to remove because your bone is softer and more resilient, and the roots are still developing.  As you age, the bone surrounding the tooth becomes harder, making the surgery correspondingly more difficult.  

 Risk of wisdom tooth removal

As with any surgery, there is always risks.  After your wisdom teeth are removed you may experience:

  • Pain and swelling in the area where the tooth was extracted
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty opening you jaw (Trismus)
  • Dry socket
  • Nerve damage – Under the roots of your teeth there is a nerve in your jaw bone that supplies your lower lip.  This nerve can potentially be injured if the roots of your wisdom teeth are in close proximity to it.  We routinely assess the proximity of the roots to the nerve prior to deciding to remove your wisdom teeth.

If you are concerned about your wisdom teeth and having toothache (dental emergency), or have had problems associated with wisdom teeth, book a wisdom tooth consultation with Tristan at Hobsonville Point Dental today via our online booking system

Click here to book online    

 Posted By Tristan 

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