When it comes to dentistry, many people feel recommended treatments are not always necessary. They view things such as replacing a lost molar or the removal of wisdom teeth as something dentists recommend in general, without any real purpose to the procedures.
However, other than cosmetic treatments, when you choose not to have work done from your treatment plan, chances are you will suffer the consequences sometime in the future. In fact, cosmetic treatments impact your overall health with a boost of confidence that can greatly improve your sense of well-being!
Your wisdom teeth can cause a slew of issues now and throughout your life, if you don’t follow your dentist’s recommendation for extraction. Here’s a look at wisdom teeth, why you don’t need them, and why we recommend extraction in many cases.
What are wisdom teeth?
Your wisdom teeth usually make an appearance when you are in your late teens or even early 20s.
In some cases, they “erupt” without any issues at all, and in this case, we would never recommend extraction because your dental health is not at risk. In most cases, however, they do cause issues because they tend to come in a little crooked. Wisdom teeth can cause all kinds of health symptoms, including:
- Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad taste in your mouth with bad breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth
You can also experience unexpected issues such as headaches, earaches, neck pain and more. Interestingly, many people won’t have wisdom teeth at all, and this is why we say you don’t necessarily need your wisdom teeth.
As humans evolved, these large, “meat chewing” molars are not necessary. Our caveman ancestors needed these teeth to chew raw, less refined foods. Today, however, our bodies are adjusting to a very different diet, and as a result, more and more people will never see their wisdom teeth appear.
Why Wisdom Teeth are Troublemakers
Because these molars are late to arrive, they are similar to an afterthought. They pop up when the rest of your teeth have settled in, which means they have trouble fitting. They can lead to overcrowding, cavities, mouth pain, and even gum disease, to name but a few potential issues.
We can spot these potential issues as your wisdom teeth first appear and watch them closely at your check-ups to spot signs they should be extracted. We look for things such as oral infections, the appearance of decay, complaints of tooth pain, and jaw stiffness when tracking your wisdom teeth progression.
We can also look at your X-rays and identify issues that will lead to these symptoms. This way, we help you avoid them altogether by taking a proactive approach and removing them early on.
What if you don’t have symptoms?
As mentioned above, our goal is to keep you comfortable and healthy. Even if you aren’t experiencing common symptoms related to your wisdom teeth, we can spot signs you can expect trouble as your wisdom teeth continue to “grow in.”
What does extraction help you avoid?
By taking a proactive approach to your dental care, we can help you avoid several unpleasant issues, including:
- Tumours or cysts that cause bone loss
- Damage to your existing teeth
- Teeth crowding
When we remove your wisdom teeth, we also remove the risk of these serious dental problems. If you are suffering from serious symptoms, such as pain, we can alleviate the discomfort. Once you recover from your surgery, it will be clear sailing without future worries.
Reasons for Extraction
The main reason we recommend extraction is if your wisdom teeth become impacted. This happens when your mouth doesn’t have enough room for your wisdom teeth. As a result, they can’t “erupt” fully, or even at all. We look for the following signs of impacted teeth:
- Teeth growing towards your next molar
- Teeth growing towards the back of your mouth
- Teeth growing at an extreme angle
- Teeth that are trapped within the jawbone
All of these positions are extremely challenging and will lead to pain. By removing them, we avoid a slew of issues, including:
- Ongoing, often unmanageable pain
- Food getting trapped behind partially erupted wisdom teeth
- Infection or gum disease
- Tooth decay for partially erupted wisdom tooth
- Damage to your other molars
- Damage to the surrounding bone
- Potential for cysts forming around the wisdom tooth
As your semi-erupted teeth put pressure on your other teeth, it can also lead to future expensive orthodontic treatment.
Reasons to Remove Non-Impacted Wisdom Teeth
In some cases, it’s also a good idea to remove wisdom teeth even if they aren’t impacted. Of course, if your teeth erupt just like your other molars, they don’t pose a threat to your dental health. However, even non-impacted wisdom teeth can pose a problem. We might recommend this based on a few things:
- Wisdom teeth can still harbour disease
- Just because teeth aren’t impacted, doesn’t mean they will ultimately erupt in a manner, which can lead to decay
- It’s riskier for older people to run into complications with wisdom teeth if they aren’t removed at a younger age
- Younger people heal quicker and experience less difficulty for oral surgery than older people
Every case is different, and we will keep a close watch to make sure we catch potential issues before they can become serious. If you experience issues with pain in your mouth in your teens or early 20s and haven’t had your wisdom teeth erupt yet, always mention it to our team so we can take a closer look and decide if action is required!