We get lots of questions about wisdom teeth and what to do about them at Stadium Dental Center in Jefferson City, Missouri. Dr. Cardon has helped people with wisdom tooth problems for over 30 years.
If they’re properly oriented, wisdom teeth can work like the other teeth in your mouth. Problems can result if they become impacted so they can’t align normally in the mouth. Since this happens more often with wisdom teeth, they’re often removed. Learn more about your wisdom teeth and wisdom tooth extractions.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are another name for the third set of permanent molars. Most people have three per- manent molars in each side of each jaw. First molars typically erupt around age 6, then the second set of molars erupt around age 12.
The third set of molars are the last to erupt. The term “wisdom teeth” arose because they develop after the other permanent teeth, sometime from age 17 to age 21 years.
Why do wisdom teeth sometimes need to be removed?
Some wisdom teeth become impacted as they’re unable to erupt properly. We may recommend the extraction of impacted wisdom teeth because of the problems they can cause. Common issues include infection, decay of neighboring teeth, gum disease, cysts, and tumors.
Wisdom teeth that have already erupted may also be recommended for removal. This can be due to an unusable or difficult-to-brush location, decay, or the disruption of your bite. Other reasons are the presence of gum disease or the third molar’s presence compromising the condition of adjacent teeth. In some cases, we may recommend removing wisdom teeth early to prevent such problems from arising.
How do I know if I need my wisdom teeth removed?
Someone whose wisdom teeth should be removed may feel a range of symptoms, such as pain, infection, and swelling of the face or gums. We can find out whether your wisdom teeth should be removed by taking X-rays and examining your mouth. Wisdom teeth that are not removed should still be monitored, since they can cause problems later on. Extraction is usually an outpatient procedure, whether performed under a local anesthetic, sedation, or general anesthetic.
Are there any complications associated with wisdom tooth extractions?
The most common complication after wisdom tooth extractions is dry socket. This painful delay in healing results from the absence of a blood clot in the site. Because this blood clot invites new soft tissue and bone to develop, healing takes longer.
To prevent dry socket, avoid any smoking and treat the wound site carefully after a wisdom tooth extraction. Rinsing gently with salt water can help keep your mouth clean after the procedure. Excessive rinsing or spitting is best avoided while your mouth heals.
For women, studies show that high levels of estrogen may increase a woman’s chances of having a dry socket. To decrease this risk, if possible, women should schedule extractions during the last week of their menstrual cycle.
Before any tooth extraction, be sure to tell us about any medications or supplements that you are taking. To avoid complications after the procedure, follow our written instructions regarding eating and drinking, pain management, and keeping the extraction site clean.
Everyone’s mouth is different, and determining whether your wisdom teeth should be removed is your choice. We’re glad to help you learn about yours and what options may be worth considering. If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth or wisdom tooth extraction, give us a call.