It seems that removing wisdom teeth has become a rite of passage into adulthood, but is it always necessary to remove wisdom teeth? We ought to say the answer varies because each case is different. While it is true that extracting wisdom teeth can prevent many dental problems, both now and later, only after assessing the growth, position and impact on surrounding teeth can we decide whether it’s best to remove them.
Wisdom teeth may not need to be removed if they are:
Grown in completely (fully erupted)
Positioned correctly and biting properly with their opposing teeth
Functioning properly and able to be cleaned as part of daily hygiene practices
Though often wisdom teeth don't have room to grow properly and can cause sundry problems. Erupting wisdom teeth can grow at various angles in the jaw and sometimes even horizontally. Problems can include wisdom teeth that:
- Cause gum problems
Erupted (impacted) teeth may lead to infections, cysts or tumors in the gum tissue or jawbone. Incompletely erupted teeth can create deep pockets around themselves where bacteria and food can collect and infection can develop.
- Growth of wisdom teeth can cause damage to neighboring teeth
Deep pockets around incompletely erupted teeth create areas where bacterial plaque, calculus and food collect. Cavities on tooth roots may develop in these areas. In this case, extraction of the wisdom teeth and the neighboring teeth may be required.
- Wisdom teeth won’t fully erupt and they are either: moving in the direction of neighboring tooth roots or will never come into contact with an opposing tooth
If wisdom teeth move in the direction of adjacent tooth roots and put pressure on them, the roots will resorb. This cause permanently damage the adjacent tooth and will require either surgery on the affected roots or tooth extraction. On the other hand, if it’s clear that the wisdom tooth will not come into contact with its opposing tooth, it is functionally useless and the risks of keeping it can often outweigh the benefits of keeping it.
According to the American Dental Association, wisdom teeth removal may be necessary if you experience changes in the area of those teeth, such as: pain, repeated infection of soft tissue behind the lower last tooth, fluid-filled sacs (cysts), tumors, damage to nearby teeth, gum disease, extensive tooth decay.
It’s important, that the decision to remove wisdom teeth isn't always clear. That’s why you should talk to professional team of dentists about the position and health of your wisdom teeth and define what's best for your situation. Please feel free to contact us in Norwalk, CT for an appointment and get a professional opinion. We have answers on your questions and we can help.