Wisdom teeth are the last of your back chewing molars, often referred to as “third molars”. Not everyone develops all four wisdom teeth and they don’t come in, or erupt, until your late teens or early twenties. So when to extract wisdom teeth, or should you at all?
While it used to be recommended that all wisdom teeth be extracted, some dentists now offer a wait-and-see approach. However, it’s smart to discuss with your dentist what is best for you in terms of ease of extraction, recovery time and post-op discomfort. Monitoring your wisdom teeth during exams and with x-rays allows you and your dentist to watch for potential problems.
Potential Problems with Wisdom Teeth
Most problems that can develop with wisdom teeth are because there’s just not a lot of space in the back of most mouths. That can lead to:
Movement, crowding or damage of neighboring teeth
Decay because of the difficulty keeping third molars clean
Pockets around the wisdom teeth because of difficulty flossing
Food trapping that can lead to growth of bacteria and infection
If your wisdom teeth show signs of any of these problems it’s best to have them removed as soon as possible. However, even if you do not yet have any symptoms there can problems under the gums, for example, if your wisdom teeth don’t erupt through the gums. If your wisdom tooth is formed at an angle it can push up against, or impact, the second molar in front of it. This can lead to movement of the second molar, potential decay or gum infection around that tooth. All this can happen without symptoms.
When to Extract Wisdom Teeth
It’s often recommended to have wisdom teeth extracted at a younger age rather than later since the surgery and healing is usually easier before the wisdom tooth roots are fully developed, generally by your early 20’s. Extraction of wisdom teeth that are impacted or not fully erupted are a little more difficult, the recovery time can be a little longer and may be more prone to complications. You can discuss all of this with your dentist.
Caring for Your Wisdom Teeth
If you still have your wisdom teeth, regular dental visits and professional cleanings along with x-rays to monitor your teeth and tooth roots are important. Excellent tooth brushing (use a small-head toothbrush to get back there more easily) and careful flossing around your wisdom teeth will help them stay healthy for as long as possible.
What about your wisdom teeth? If you’re having symptoms or considering wisdom teeth extraction, contact us for a wisdom teeth extraction consultation with our Periodontist, Dr. Valerie Martins. Her training and experience with wisdom teeth extraction Amherst will help you have a comfortable experience. Get the information you need to make your best decision on whether or when to extract wisdom teeth.