Did you know that not all mouths are created equal?
While some people are lucky and only born with two, or even one, wisdom teeth, others are born with them all.
But what are wisdom teeth?
Chances are if you’ve made it through puberty, you’ve heard the phrase pop up in your dentist office a time or two.
Even then, it’s more than likely that you’ve gone through the uncomfortable procedure of having them removed.
Wisdom teeth are molars that are deep below the gum line and do not grow in until the rest of your teeth have already settled into place.
This often times causes problems because your mouth is incapable of accommodating the new teeth.
Your dentist will be well versed in the art of wisdom tooth-ery, but even then it’s helpful to have an understanding of what it is your dentist is looking for when making his decision about wisdom teeth removal.
Take a look at these three reasons you might need your wisdom teeth extracted and what you can expect.
As mentioned above, wisdom teeth often do not fit inside of the mouth once all of the teeth have settled. Though this is not always the case, it is likely that with two or more wisdom teeth, your mouth will experience overcrowding, potentially damaging your smile. For example, consider the braces you had and all of the corrective straightening they did for your teeth. Now, with your wisdom teeth moving in, you’re likely to see a good portion of that straightening go to waste. As wisdom teeth grow in, your teeth will shift to make room for them, twisting and turning to help them fit. Unfortunately, this will leave you with crooked teeth and a potentially painful bite. Your dentist will closely examine your x-rays to see the path that your new wisdom teeth will follow as they break through the gum barrier. If they see that the wisdom tooth is a threat to the present teeth, then wisdom teeth removal may be recommended to prevent further damage.
Not all wisdom teeth will grow straight up. In fact, most wisdom teeth will come in at an angle because they must push through the already strong barrier of teeth your mouth has formed. When this happens, your wisdom tooth will shift and can shift so that the roots are pushing up directly against your jawbone. After time, your wisdom tooth will push itself further and further into the bone, creating an extremely painful sensation when you open your mouth. Wisdom teeth that go without extraction can easily lead to complications in TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) cause you to grind and/or clench your teeth at night. Not to mention, because your teeth have sharp roots, they are able to chip away at healthy tissue beneath the gum line. This in turn, when left untreated, leads to infections forming, also called abscesses. These abscesses are serious forms of bacteria that build up and can threaten not just the wisdom tooth, but the teeth around it as well. If your dentist notices that your wisdom tooth has shifted and will threaten the jaw, they will send you to a specialist who handles wisdom teeth removal.
Your wisdom tooth might pop up on its own without pushing too much out of the way. If this is the case, you might be thinking you’re out of the woods and that you won’t need to worry about wisdom teeth extraction. While this is sometimes true, it very rarely is the case. Because your mouth is a confined space, without any room for stretching, you’re likely to see an issue with your oral hygiene the more that your wisdom teeth grow in. The further back your wisdom teeth are, the more likely it is that you’ll do a less than great job getting them totally clean. Not to mention, your wisdom tooth might not even grow in completely, meaning that food and bacteria can get stuck in hard to reach places, creating plaque and cavities. When this happens, your wisdom tooth will be the root cause of any gingivitis you might experience and decay in places that cannot be fixed (through the use of fillings). This can ultimately lead to infection, such as in the above case, leading to complications with your wisdom tooth and root canals as a means of procedure. Your dentist will note how far your tooth has grown in and to what extent any potential decay or disease might be upon breaking the barrier of your gum line. If the risk is too high, your dentist will recommend them being removed.
Wisdom teeth removal is often the height of great anxiety for those approaching early adulthood. It is a surgery with required healing time to see the best results. However, keep in mind that not everyone will need to undergo the procedure. Many people are born with fewer wisdom teeth that will not crowd the teeth too much, or simply won’t break through the surface causing problems. This is not the case for everyone, however, which is why it’s important to see the help of a dental professional immediately for the best plan for your individual needs.