Millions of people have their wisdom teeth removed each year, and roughly 85 percent of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted during their lifetime. The reason? We don’t need our wisdom teeth (also called third molars), and even if they are not currently causing you discomfort they can get in the way of other teeth, which can cause future issues.
Dentists may recommend having wisdom teeth pulled if you experience any of the following issues:
- Misaligned teeth due to not enough room in your mouth. Most people have space for approximately 28 teeth, but when wisdom teeth come in, that adds four more to your mouth, which sometimes causes wisdom teeth to not fully emerge and often become impacted. which is the number of teeth you have before your wisdom teeth erupt. In other cases, when the wisdom teeth do come in, there isn’t quite enough room available in your jaw, so other teeth can become misaligned. Having your wisdom teeth pulled will give you ample room for your necessary teeth.
- Wisdom teeth gum pain. Pain can be a sign of infection that can occur from partially emerged wisdom teeth, where food and bacteria can get trapped. This causes an infection called pericoronitis.
- Wisdom teeth coming in crooked: Sometimes your wisdom teeth will come in fully, but not straight, forcing your teeth to shift and move over time. And worse, misaligned wisdom teeth can damage adjacent teeth.
- Cysts on wisdom teeth. Cysts can form when the sac next to the tooth becomes filled with fluid, potentially destroying the surrounding bone or tooth roots.
Or, sometimes dentists will recommend having your wisdom teeth removed just for the fact that it can be difficult for people to keep those back teeth properly cared for and cleaned, which can lead to other problems.
Dentists will often recommend wisdom teeth extraction at a younger age — typically between the ages of 18 and the early 20s. This is the period when most people’s wisdom teeth should be protruding through your gums. Sometimes dentists will recommend having them removed earlier, depending on the structure of an individual mouth. If you wait to have the procedure done later in life, it may require a longer recovery time, and waiting can also lead to more serious issues down the road.
Conversely, some people’s mouths adjust well enough to allow for the four additional teeth. In this case, it may not be necessary to have them removed.
What to Expect
For the majority of people who will have their wisdom teeth removed, here’s what to expect:
- The procedure can be done under either local or general anesthesia, or intraveous sedation to prevent you from feeling discomfort. Ask your dentist which method will be administered for your procedure. If it’s general anesthesia, you will need to have someone drive you home.
- The length of procedure depends on the number of wisdom teeth pulled and the condition of your teeth, but most procedures range in time from an hour to several hours.
- Dentists will often provide pre-surgical instructions, advising you to avoid various medications (i.e., blood thinners) before the procedure
- Following the procedure, you will experience some common discomforts, including bleeding and swelling. Dentists will advise you of how to treat these, but usually to slow the bleeding it’s suggested to apply a moist gauze pad to the area, while keeping pressure on it for around 45 minutes. To combat swelling, using ice packs on the outside of your cheek near the affected area can help.
If you have questions whether you or a loved one needs wisdom teeth removed, schedule an appointment with Corson Dentistry today.