Wisdom teeth, also known as “third molars”, are the final set of teeth to grow in. For the longest time, it was common practice to have the wisdom teeth of teenagers and young adults extracted. I’m sure you know this already. You may have had your wisdom teeth pulled already, or your doctor may have mentioned that you need your wisdom teeth removed for one reason or another.
As someone who never had his wisdom teeth removed, I remember nearly everyone I knew having them pulled from an early age. The reasoning behind this was that they are often misaligned and they’re a hub for common dental problems. However, it’s not always necessary to pull them out. You may not need your wisdom teeth removed. If they are healthy, fully erupted, and well-positioned, it’s probably best to keep your wisdom teeth intact and address problems that arise later down the road.
The Problem with Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth tend to have many problems. Many times, they do not have enough room to fully develop, leading to crooked alignments. It is not rare to find wisdom teeth that have developed horizontally. Sometimes, these teeth are not able to fully erupt through the gums and there are wisdom teeth that are completely trapped in the jaw.
In cases where the wisdom teeth are able to partially erupt, they create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This is because the space in between the gum and the tooth itself is hard to clean, making that area more prone to infection. Most dentists will recommend extracting your wisdom teeth if they do not emerge fully. This is of course to prevent any of the dental problems highlighted above. The extraction of wisdom teeth is often advised amongst young adults since the roots are not fully mature, which means that it is easier to recover from the procedure. That said, the decision on whether or not to have your wisdom teeth removed is one that will depend on your oral health and the positioning of these teeth.
Why You May Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
The American Dental Association suggests that you may need your wisdom teeth removed if you experience the following conditions within or around the teeth:
- Gum disease
- Widespread decay
- Damage to surrounding teeth
While the mature adult should have 32 teeth, most of our mouths can only fit 28 teeth which is why wisdom teeth often have problems with their eruption. When these 4 wisdom teeth try to fit into an already confined jaw space, there is bound to be misalignment and improper eruption. In such cases, the dental surgeon will recommend having the teeth removed so as to have enough room for your other teeth. If the teeth are misaligned or develop sideways (impacted) as is common, they will cause a shift in your teeth over time.
They also may damage your surrounding teeth and removing them is often the best course of action to take in protecting your other teeth. The fact that it’s hard to clean misaligned teeth and the spaces in between is also a major concern as far as your oral health is concerned. This is because it’s very easy for food to get trapped in those hard-to-reach areas leading to an accumulation of plaque and bacteria. The result would be an infection such as pericoronitis.
As the wisdom teeth try to develop, they may cause tension within your jaw structure leading to cysts. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop along the edge of the gum. Besides being painful, they also could bring about a tumor and this would lead to a more severe surgical procedure. Additionally, cysts destroy the structures surrounding the teeth such as the roots and bone. Frequently, doctors site these reasons and more for why you need your wisdom teeth removed.
What to Expect With Wisdom Teeth Removal?
If your dentist determines that you need your wisdom teeth removed, he or she will refer you to a specialist. The procedure may differ depending on the nature of the teeth and you may undergo different procedures depending on how the teeth have developed. Not all teeth are removed at the same time. The specialist may decide to take out a few teeth at a time or remove all four on the same day. The procedure may take an hour or a couple of hours depending on the number of teeth being removed.
This is a highly tolerable procedure as it is conducted under anesthesia. The patient will decide on whether to have a local or general anesthesia. If you do decide to undergo the procedure under general anesthesia, you will need to organize for transportation back home. General anesthesia makes you light-headed and you should not drive back home yourself. If you choose to undergo the procedure with a local anesthetic, the specialist may decide to give you anxiety medication. Depending on the anxiety medication provided, you may or may not be able to drive yourself back home.
Fully erupted wisdom teeth are much easier to extract. However, if the tooth is not fully erupted or trapped underneath the gum, an incision will be made to the gum to expose the tooth. In such a case, the tooth would be removed in small sections.
Wisdom Tooth Removal: Possible Complications
Like any other procedure, there is the possibility of complications that arise from the extraction of wisdom teeth. The patient may experience pain in the jaw or gum, as well as a foul smell and taste from the empty socket. This condition, referred to as a dry socket, mostly occurs when the patient does not follow the care instructions provided by the doctor. There is also the risk of nerve damage occurring and while the risk is low, the effects could be dire. Nerve damage may bring about numbness and a tingling sensation in the gums, teeth, lower lip, and even the tongue. Pain is also a side effect of nerve damage.
If your wisdom teeth are not developing as they should, you might need to have them removed. Even if they are not causing pain or other problems, the dentist may recommend removal to prevent future problems. A lot of people are not aware that they even have wisdom teeth until they are identified through an x-ray examination. Not everyone will need to have their wisdom teeth removed. However, if there is a possibility that these teeth will cause problems for you in the future, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Dropping Some Wisdom on You
Ultimately, the younger you have your wisdom teeth removed, the better it is for you since younger people heal faster. Talk to your dentist about your oral health, and if you need your wisdom teeth removed, do it while you’re still young. The pain sensation and risk of complications increase as you age.
Convenient Dentist Offices in Southern California
Doctor Sam Shahovesi and the team at City Dental Centers are here to provide our patients with the best dental services and dental surgeries for children and adults of all ages. From toddlers to seniors, City Dental Centers offers six convenient dentist offices in Southern California. We even have a dedicated children’s dentist office, City Dental Kids & Braces, to cater to the special physical and emotional needs of children.
Whether you need checkups, x-rays, braces, bonding, teeth whitening, sealants, oral cancer screenings, root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, or tooth extraction, City Dental Centers is here to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible.
Contact The Nearest Dentist to You
Ready to experience the best dentists in Los Angeles? Choose one of the convenient dental offices we have surrounding LA. We have dental practices in Azusa, Corona, Lake Forest, Montclair, Pico Rivera, and West Covina. You can call our main line at (888) 624-8933 or reach out to an office directly with the information below. We’re so happy you’ve chosen City Dental Centers. We can’t wait to help you along your dental journey and brighten your beautiful smile!
Dentist in Azusa, CA
Location: 483 S. Citrus Ave. Azusa, CA 91702
Phone: (626) 966-3400
Dentist in Corona, CA
Location: 161 McKinley St. STE 102, Corona, CA 92879
Phone: (951) 737-3746
Dentist in Lake Forest, CA
Location: 24602 Raymond Way #210, Lake Forest, CA 92630
Phone: (949) 461-5800
Dentist in Montclair, CA
Location: 5182 Moreno St, Montclair, CA 91763
Phone: (909) 295-3477
Dentist in Pico Rivera, CA
Location: 9400 Whittier Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660
Phone: (562) 949-2526
Dentist in West Covina, CA
Location: 154 Plaza Dr, West Covina, CA 91790
Phone: (626) 962-1722