If wisdom teeth cause so many problems, why do people even have them? It’s a great question with an interesting answer. These problematic stragglers in your mouth, a third set of molars, are a holdover from a time when human ancestors mainly ate raw vegetables and hard foods.
Diet has changed over time. And so have jaws — they’ve become smaller, which means your mouth is often too crowded for your wisdom teeth to grow in properly and fit with their neighbors.
The highly skilled team at Hometown Family Dental Centers — with offices in Raeford, Vass, and Fayetteville, North Carolina — can determine if your wisdom teeth may be a problem as they grow in. If these teeth need to come out, we offer IV sedation and a compassionate, relaxing environment to make sure you're comfortable and relaxed during your procedure.
Ask your dentist the right questions
Your dentist can inform you of your options for your wisdom teeth based on answers to questions such as:
- How likely is it that your wisdom teeth can develop properly?
- Is there enough space in your jaw for all teeth?
- Is it likely that the wisdom teeth will damage the neighboring teeth?
- What complications could the operation cause?
In many patients, the wisdom teeth are trapped deep in the jawbone and often stay there for a lifetime. If the location of the teeth makes it difficult to get to or if they’re close to a nerve, you may have a higher risk of complications from surgery. If the trapped teeth are healthy, it may be more beneficial to leave them in place.
Do my wisdom teeth need to be removed if I have no complaints?
That's the big question. In the past, many dentists recommended extracting wisdom teeth as a precautionary measure even in completely symptom-free patients. However, the removal doesn’t offer any advantage for patients who wouldn’t have problems with their wisdom teeth down the road.
The issue is that you may not know with complete certainty whether your wisdom teeth will cause problems later. Your dentist can check their shape and position in the jaw to assess your risk of subsequent complaints. If your wisdom teeth have to be removed, it’s best to schedule the procedure as soon as possible.
What if my wisdom teeth only partially erupt?
An unfavorable situation exists when your wisdom teeth erupt through the gums incompletely. Nooks and crannies form between the gum and the tooth in which food particles can accumulate and bacteria can multiply.
A common consequence is painful infections, swelling of the gums, bad breath, and possibly a slight fever. Sometimes cysts form, which can damage the jawbone if left untreated.
Is there enough space in my jaw for wisdom teeth?
In a jaw that’s too narrow, wisdom teeth can’t develop normally. Sometimes their growth puts pressure on neighboring teeth and damages them. They also can shift the entire row of teeth and cause misaligned teeth.
In the worst case, this can ruin the success of an orthodontic tooth correction. In some patients, the pressure of the wisdom teeth also causes chronic jaw or facial pain. If your dentist determines that such problems are likely to arise, they will recommend wisdom teeth removal.
Are my wisdom teeth crooked or twisted?
If wisdom teeth are growing in at an angle that won’t fit into your row of teeth correctly, they can cause problems. The crown of a crooked growing wisdom tooth can exert such intense pressure on the neighboring tooth that it can cause considerable damage to the tooth bed or tooth root.
If a wisdom tooth is a danger to the adjacent molar, it should be removed. The same applies if the position of the wisdom tooth would make it difficult for you to bite properly.
When are wisdom teeth allowed to stay?
There are situations in which some or all of the wisdom teeth don’t have to be removed. You can probably avoid the procedure when:
- The teeth are healthy
- The teeth have enough space
- The teeth are buried too deep in the jawbone
- Orthodontic treatment ensures that the wisdom teeth can develop normally
Wisdom teeth extraction always depends on each individual case. If you have further questions about wisdom teeth, we’d love to hear from you. Call the office that’s convenient for you, or use this secure online form to request an appointment.