Wisdom teeth are usually only removed if they cause problems or may become problematic in the future. But wisdom tooth extraction isn’t for everyone. If you’re between the ages of 17 and 25, you may be debating whether or not to have your third set of molars pulled. While there are many benefits to having wisdom teeth removed, many dentists recommend that patients delay the extraction and closely observe that their teeth are aligned and healthy. This article will discuss whether wisdom teeth need to be removed and the pros and cons of wisdom teeth removal.
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When Is It Good To Pull Your Wisdom Teeth?
The decision to have your wisdom teeth removed depends largely on whether the wisdom teeth are already causing trouble, or if they are likely to be in the future. Before removing any wisdom teeth, it is important to answer the following questions:
- Have your wisdom teeth already caused pain or damage to your jaw or nearby teeth, or is there an increased risk of this happening?
- Do wisdom teeth prevent other teeth from developing normally?
- Will wisdom teeth interfere with other planned dental or jaw-related treatments?
- What are the risks of surgery?
- Can wisdom teeth “replace” missing or severely damaged molars?
People with crooked front teeth or small jaws sometimes worry that if their wisdom teeth grow out of the gums, their teeth may be pushed out of position, or worse. but it is not the truth. The same goes for these people: Their wisdom teeth can stay in the teeth if the dentist doesn’t want them to affect other teeth.
Why Do Dentists Recommend Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Wisdom teeth can negatively impact oral health. Not only are they painful for some people, but they can also make it difficult to chew and smile. Here’s why your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth extraction:
- Partially impacted wisdom teeth can lead to oral infections.
If wisdom teeth do not fully erupt from the gums, they are called impacted or partially impacted teeth. They usually erupt at a different angle than other teeth, and their roots can be inserted into another tooth. Alternatively, they may break out and protrude midway through.
These teeth can create holes or voids that trap food particles and lead to oral infections. An infected mouth can feel uncomfortable and produce a foul odor. If left untreated, you may even develop gum inflammation.
- Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean.
Because wisdom teeth erupt in the back of your mouth, you may not be able to clean them properly. Teeth need daily brushing, flossing, and cleaning. However, if your mouth is inflamed and infected by impacted wisdom teeth, oral care can be challenging.
The accumulated debris can cause bacterial infections to spread to adjacent teeth and lead to cavities and other problems, such as gum disease.
- Your mouth may not have enough room for wisdom teeth.
Due to gradual evolution, the general size of the human mouth has decreased. As you get older, your mouth may not be able to accommodate more teeth.
Due to the lack of space, these adult molars often cause other teeth to move closer together. This can make your teeth misaligned, making them difficult to brush and clean.
Impacted third molars can also cause small cysts and tumors to form in the jawbone. These are very uncomfortable. There is also a risk of developing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
- Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain and structural problems.
Not only will your teeth be displaced when your third molars appear, but you may also experience pain from impacted wisdom teeth. They can cause you headaches, jaw pain, and facial discomfort. Also, they can misplace and distort your smile aesthetics.
Imbalances in tooth structure can put stress on healthy teeth. Stress can gradually weaken teeth, leading to fractures and cracks that contain harmful bacteria.
For many people, wisdom teeth erupt when orthodontic teeth are aligned. They can misalign newly aligned tooth structures and undo years of progress made with braces and aligners.
- Wisdom tooth extraction to prevent systemic infection
Impacted wisdom teeth can be the underlying cause of many systemic infections. Systemic infections affect various organs and require extensive treatment. Because local infections are often impossible with proper oral care, you may end up swallowing bacteria and spreading them throughout your body.
Infection of partially or completely impacted wisdom teeth in the lower jaw can lead to decreased bone density. If it gets into the bloodstream, it can cause systemic infections in the lungs, kidneys, and other organs. Harmful bacteria can also lead to an increase in arterial plaque.
To avoid these potentially dangerous health problems, dental experts recommend removing wisdom teeth as soon as possible.
The Pros and Cons of Wisdom Teeth Removal
- Reduce the Risk of Crowding
Wisdom teeth don’t always fit perfectly behind your second molars. Research shows that they grow at an angle about 44 percent of the time. If this happens, it can crowd the surrounding teeth or even take root in the teeth. Not only does this dislocate adjacent teeth, but it also traps food particles, debris, and plaque between the molars, ultimately leading to cavities. If it can’t be prevented by preemptively removing your wisdom teeth, you may need braces to fix the problem.
- Avoid Painful Impacted Teeth
In many cases, wisdom teeth will only partially penetrate the gums and become partially or completely entrapped (also known as “impacted”). Not only can this be extremely painful and make your jaw feel stiff, but it can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Pre-emptive extraction can avoid the pain (and future dental visits) caused by an impacted tooth.
- Easier Daily Care
Wisdom teeth are especially difficult to access with a toothbrush and floss because they are located in the back of the mouth. This means that, over time, these wisdom teeth can accumulate bacteria, acids, and food debris, leading to bad breath, cavities, and even gum infections. Having your wisdom teeth removed means not having to deal with the inconvenience of caring for them!
- Save Money in the Long Run
Allowing your wisdom teeth to grow comes with some potential risks. In addition to crowded and impacted teeth, you may be at risk for cysts, gum disease, nerve damage, tooth decay, and infection. To prevent any problems, your dentist will need to perform regular x-rays to closely monitor your wisdom teeth for weeks or even months. If these x-rays show any problems, or you start to experience pain symptoms like those mentioned above, you may eventually need surgery. With a pre-emptive procedure, you can eliminate the cost of this extra care — not to mention saving yourself time!
- May Have Post-Operative Discomfort
After your wisdom teeth are removed, you may experience discomfort. Most dentists will recommend that you take aspirin or ibuprofen for a few days to help you relieve pain and control any swelling. They can also prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection we mentioned earlier. Bleeding after surgery is unavoidable, so gauze pads are required to reduce bleeding. Remember: no smoking, no drinking from a straw, and no spitting. “Dry eye sockets” can make an already unpleasant recovery period worse.
- The Procedure Requires Anesthesia
If you have had any complications from anesthesia in the past, please notify your dentist in advance. Your dentist will need to numb your mouth before a tooth extraction, so it’s important that they know if you have allergies or other negative reactions before undergoing oral surgery.
- The Risk of Surgical Complications
One of the most common complications of wisdom tooth removal is an infection, especially in smokers or patients over the age of 26. However, frequent cleaning of the affected area can help you significantly reduce this risk. After tooth extraction, you need to avoid drinking through a straw, spitting, smoking, etc., as this can lead to “dry eye sockets” — a condition in which blood clots fail to form or fall off prematurely, leaving the eye sockets open to bacteria and food. This can be very painful but will resolve in a few days.
What To Do About Pain After The Operation?
Many people use pain medication after surgery. Sometimes they have taken pain medication beforehand. Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) help relieve postoperative pain. Acetylsalicylic acid (a drug in medicines such as aspirin) is not appropriate before or after taking it because it increases the risk of bleeding.
Studies have shown that a 400-mg dose of ibuprofen provides better pain relief than a 1,000-mg dose of acetaminophen. The combination of 1,000 mg of acetaminophen and 400 mg of ibuprofen provided better pain relief than the equivalent dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen by itself, and the effect lasted longer. Adults should only take this combination every eight hours at most to avoid exceeding the maximum dose of both drugs. The maximum dose of ibuprofen for adults is 800 to 1200 mg in 24 hours. The maximum dose of acetaminophen in 24 hours is 4000 mg.
Sometimes people take bromelain to reduce inflammation and pain. But good research on the benefits of this drug is lacking.
Applying an ice pack to your cheeks in the days following surgery can help reduce swelling. You should avoid smoking or drinking fruit juices and hot beverages for the first few days as they can slow down the healing process. Drinking still water or warm chamomile tea is more appropriate. Hard foods can also sometimes cause problems. Soups that aren’t too hot and foods that you can crush with your tongue are easier to eat, like potatoes, fish, or pasta.
It is best to avoid strenuous physical activity, such as exercise or going to the sauna, in the first few days after a tooth extraction, as this can also affect the healing process. This is true even if you already feel better.
Today, wisdom tooth extraction is a routine procedure. Consult a dental professional to learn how to perform the procedure. They can assess the condition of your teeth and extract fully formed wisdom teeth like any other normal tooth.