Panoramic x-ray image of teeth, highlighting the wisdom teethWisdom tooth extractions are one of the most common oral surgeries. Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars, and are the only teeth that develop after birth. These teeth are typically removed between the ages of 17 and 25, before the tooth erupts and roots begin to form. Extractions later in life often require more invasive surgeries to remove the root that has formed in the jawbone.

Not everyone needs wisdom teeth extractions. Some grow in like normal teeth, or a person may not develop them at all. Examining the development of the third molars in patients between the ages of 11 and 13 can help show whether the teeth appear to be on-track, or if they are impacted.

The Impact of Wisdom Teeth

The shape of the modern human mouth does not always accommodate wisdom teeth. This lack of space can lead to crowding of existing teeth. Crowding can make cleaning more difficult, increasing the risk of decay or gum disease. Your bite could also become misaligned from crowding, leading to jaw pain and increasing the risk of developing TMJ.

Another problem caused by this lack of space is the risk of impacted teeth. When a tooth is impacted, it is essentially trapped within the jaw. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons reports that about 90 percent of all people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth can come in sideways or at a diagonal angle. They may also force their way in even if the back molars are in the way, damaging healthy teeth in the process.

Third molars may only partially erupt from the gum, leaving crevices that lead to infection or gum disease. Complications may also arise if the tooth becomes trapped within the gum (called a soft tissue impaction) or in the jawbone itself (called a bony impaction), causing swelling, pain, and infections. Tumors have also been known to form on trapped wisdom teeth.

Complications Later in Life

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause complications years after they have fully developed. Whether they have just come in or have been there for years, impacted molars can become infected. Infections compromise the health of your whole mouth, and could lead to costly surgeries. In some cases, wisdom teeth impacted in the jawbone itself become dentigerous cysts, which may damage the jawbone and require surgery to remove.

 

Extracting wisdom teeth before their roots form could prevent costly complications later. Once the roots are formed, more in-depth surgery is needed in order to remove them from the jawbone.

Even when all of the wisdom teeth do not appear to be impacted, many people choose to have them removed to prevent decay. Being so far back in the mouth makes these third molars difficult to clean properly. Studies show that having wisdom teeth extracted improves periodontal health around the second molar.

 

For individuals who have developed healthy third molars, regular dental visits can help catch decay before it becomes a problem.

If you are interested in finding out whether your mouth will benefit from wisdom tooth extractions, please call (407)834-6446 to set up an appointment with Dr. Michael L. Weinstock today.