Is it really true that most people need to get their wisdom teeth out? Wouldn't it be easier to just wait and see what happens?
The answer to the first question is yes. Somewhere between 85-90% of Americans (you read that right) get at least one wisdom tooth removed, and most get more than one removed. As for waiting to see if you are one of these people, getting your dentist's opinion and being proactive about addressing problematic wisdom teeth will be the better choice.
While it may be tempting to just "wait it out," potentially harmful wisdom teeth that are not addressed quickly can cause a long list of dental problems.
Impaction is the term for what occurs when there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth to grow in properly, and they become stuck underneath the gums. This often causes them to come in at an odd angle. As a result, neighboring teeth can be affected, and pain, swelling, infection, and other problems can occur.
With or without impaction, as your wisdom teeth come in, they can push your other teeth out of place. This can cause them to be overcrowded. Unfortunately, overcrowding can cause a lot of problems. When teeth become too close together, it can make them more difficult to brush and floss properly, leading to decay.
In addition, overcrowding can push the teeth out of alignment. The result can be expensive orthodontic treatment to correct a crooked smile.
As we mentioned, when teeth get overcrowded, the spaces between them get extremely tight. Cleaning these spaces is difficult, even when you brush and floss regularly. This can put you at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Overcrowding can also be a problem for patients whose wisdom teeth appear to come in straight. Even minor overcrowding in the far back of the mouth can mean cavities and gingivitis if it makes it more difficult to clean these already hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
Even when wisdom teeth don't become completely impacted, they can come in at odd angles or only partially erupt. These circumstances can leave the area prone to bacterial growth, irritation, and infection. If infection sets in, it is often extremely uncomfortable and can even become a dangerous situation. An infection may cause a cyst or abscess to develop, which is painful and can become a serious health concern if not addressed immediately.
As your wisdom teeth come in, they continue to grow. This growth includes the roots. As roots grow, they become more established in the jaw over time and, as a result, more difficult to remove. What's more, the earlier wisdom teeth are removed, and the less complex the removal, the faster and easier recovery will be.
Unfortunately, a lot of these problems will ultimately result in pain and discomfort. While it is possible that some pain occurs when wisdom teeth are coming in normally and without issue, it can also be an indication of a problem.
If you experience pain in the back of your mouth, behind your molars, and you are between the ages of 17 and 25, there is a good chance this is wisdom teeth pain. The best way to find out if your wisdom teeth are causing a problem and may need to be removed is to see a dentist.
At Hoffman Dental Care, we have years of experience relieving wisdom teeth pain. It is our goal to make your experience as comfortable as possible. We can help you determine if getting your wisdom teeth out sooner rather than later can mean a better, more comfortable outcome without these potential complications.