Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that erupt at the very back of a person’s mouth, behind their other molars. For some people, this does not present a problem. But for others, wisdom teeth can create a variety of issues. If you’re wondering whether or not your wisdom teeth should be removed, we’ve created a list of situations that typically require removal of the third set of molars.

  • If a person’s mouth isn’t large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, this third set of molars can actually put pressure on other teeth inside the mouth and cause them to shift in place. This can cause discomfort, throw a person’s bite off, and can even undo any earlier orthodontic work that was performed on other teeth.
  • Sometimes wisdom teeth only come in partially, leaving a flap of gum tissue that creates an excellent place for leftover food to collect. If that food gets trapped, it can feed bacteria, and that can lead to infection. This type of infection, called pericoronitis, is quite painful and is the most obvious symptom that a person’s wisdom teeth need to be removed.
  • Wisdom teeth are sometimes prevented from erupting because of other teeth or bone tissue. As a result, the wisdom teeth under the gum become tilted. These “impacted” wisdom teeth can be painful, but they can also produce no discomfort whatsoever. Often the only way to determine whether or not you have impacted wisdom teeth is with a dental X-ray. Regardless of whether they hurt or not, impacted teeth should be removed.
  • Sometimes, wisdom teeth should be extracted to prevent other problems from occurring later on. The fact is that we only have so much room inside our mouths, and an extra set of molars can eventually lead to crowding of the teeth, even if it doesn’t happen right away. These teeth located far in the back of the mouth are also harder to clean, making them more susceptible to decay and infection.

Wisdom teeth removal is usually considered to be dental surgery. And as is the case with almost any type of surgery, the younger the patient is, the faster he or she will recover. The best time to have wisdom teeth removed is when the patient is young, when the roots of the teeth haven’t completely developed and bone around the teeth is not as dense as it is in later years. While you can certainly have wisdom teeth removed when you’re older, just remember that it will take longer to heal than it does a younger patient.

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