Studies show that three out of four people have had, or will have, their wisdom teeth removed in their lifetime. Wisdom teeth occur naturally, and not everyone needs to have theirs removed. However, some people choose to have wisdom teeth extracted even before they begin to cause trouble, often due to hearing others talk about their own discomfort. Dr. Stephen J. Burds of the Des Moines, IA based Gateway Dental Group answers some common questions about wisdom teeth and when they should be removed.
Why do Wisdom Teeth Cause so much Trouble?
Wisdom teeth—the third molars located at the very back of your mouth—are the last permanent teeth to emerge from the gums. Because all of the other teeth have already grown in, the main problem with wisdom teeth is space. Often, the wisdom tooth lacks the space to grow properly and can erupt at odd angles. Sometimes the tooth will not completely emerge from the gums, or not emerge at all, which can cause the tooth to become trapped within your jaw.
Should I Remove my Wisdom Teeth Before They Cause Trouble?
Wisdom teeth have long been considered by dentists to be as useless as they are troublesome. This belief has led to the practice of extracting wisdom teeth as a preventive measure before they have the chance to cause problems. Many dentists also believe it is better to perform the procedure while the patient is still young enough to recover quickly from the surgery and before the teeth have had a chance to become more firmly rooted in the jaw. Wisdom tooth removal may become necessary if the tooth is only partially emerged. This could indicate an increased chance of infection, as food debris and bacteria easily collect in the soft tissues around the partially-emerged tooth. Also, a fluid-filled sac, or cyst, can develop around an unerupted wisdom tooth, damaging the tissue or bone. If you suspect you may need a removal, Dr. Burds will thoroughly inspect your mouth to decide the best course of action.
Do I Have to Remove My Wisdom Teeth?
If your wisdom tooth exhibits any of the signs mentioned above, removal may be necessary. Dr. Burds will provide a comprehensive exam to determine if you need treatment and then discuss all options with you to decide what should be done. Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed if they exhibit proper growth, but you may want to consider extraction to avoid future problems.
To learn more about wisdom teeth, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Burds for an oral examination, call the Gateway Dental Group office at (515) 244-9565. We are located in Des Moines, IA, and welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and all neighboring communities.