When Should My Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Most people will get their wisdom teeth at any point from age 17 to 25. These are your last set of adult teeth, sitting right at the back of your mouth. Some people’s wisdom teeth grow and erupt without any issues, but most will experience difficulties with them. As a result, removing your wisdom teeth can be beneficial.
Because these teeth are the last to come in and sit so far back, you won’t lose anything by having them removed. In fact, extraction is often recommended in many scenarios because of the following reasons.
A small amount of pain is normal when any tooth erupts. After all, teeth have to literally break through the gums! The problem with your wisdom teeth is that they’re fairly large and grow in a very awkward position. Being so far back in your mouth puts the roots of your upper wisdom teeth close to your sinuses. As they grow, you may experience pain around your sinuses, which can cause congestion and headaches.
Moreover, wisdom teeth often grow at an angle, impacting neighboring teeth. As you can imagine, if a tooth grows towards another tooth at an angle, both will be affected. Your wisdom teeth could shift the other tooth from its natural alignment, leading to more pain. This is different from an “impacted” wisdom tooth, which refers to teeth that are unable to fully emerge from the gums. Here, your wisdom teeth stay below the surface, yet continue to grow and get bigger. It can cause intense pain in the gums and jaw, while also affecting the surrounding teeth.
Disruption of Other Teeth
We mentioned that wisdom teeth impact other teeth and grow against them. This won’t always cause pain, but it can cause other dental problems. Most notably, your teeth may fall out of alignment and some can be pushed forward or at an angle.
The problem here is largely cosmetic. Misaligned teeth can make your entire mouth look crooked. In turn, when you smile, teeth can stick out or unnaturally jut outward. A disrupted smile can knock your confidence and make you reluctant to smile, which can harm your mental health. Removing these teeth will help prevent your existing teeth from shifting, so you maintain a straighter smile.
Issues With Your Bite
A healthy bite is when your upper front teeth sit just over your lower front teeth while your molars remain in contact with one another. This is the optimal tooth alignment for your jaw, helping it move correctly and making it easier for you to chew food.
Wisdom teeth can affect your bite by moving it forward, backward, or to the side. In any case, this could lead to a host of dental health concerns. Most people don’t realize how valuable a healthy bite is because the benefits go unnoticed. It’s only when your bite moves that you may experience the negative consequences.
One common problem is jaw pain (if your jaw moves differently because of how your teeth sit). Chewing might become a challenge and increase stress on your jaw muscles, tendons, and joints. You can quickly develop TMJ disorder, which may lead to lockjaw and regular pain.
Likewise, one big issue with an unhealthy bite is how your teeth interact with one another. If your upper teeth are pushed too far forward, back, or sideways, they will come into contact with your lower teeth in new ways. This can mean they’re too closely in contact with the teeth, leading to excessive wear and tear. As a result, you wear down tooth enamel and damage the structure of your teeth. This could also lead to an increased risk of cavities, as your teeth no longer have their natural protective surface.
What does all of this mean? Usually, you’ll have to spend a lot of money on dental health procedures to correct these individual issues. Or, you could simply remove your wisdom teeth and prevent them from happening in advance. Regular dental checkups will help your dentists track your wisdom teeth and assess your bite. If they notice that these new teeth are causing significant shifts, they’ll suggest an extraction to save you from pain later on.
Another primary reason your wisdom teeth should be removed is due to the prevention of infections. This all relates back to the awkward positioning of these teeth. Growing at the back of the mouth means they are the hardest teeth to reach when brushing. What’s more, cleaning your wisdom teeth is harder when they’re impacted and partially hidden in your gums.
As a consequence, it’s very common for food to get stuck between your wisdom teeth or for bacteria to form and not be cleaned. This leads to something called pericoronitis, which is an infection of the gum around the tooth. When this happens, the area can swell and lead to severe pain. Sometimes, the infection goes away with treatment, but if it keeps happening, your wisdom teeth must be extracted.
Similarly, tooth decay can occur on wisdom teeth because they’re hard to properly clean. When left untreated, a dental abscess can form. This leads to a serious infection that causes excessive swelling and a buildup of harmful fluid in the area. To avoid the risk of decay, having your wisdom teeth removed before they reach this point is essential.
Avoid Wisdom Teeth Problems With Regular Evaluations
All of these problems can be avoided if you see a dentist to evaluate your wisdom teeth. A dentist will look inside your mouth and take X-rays to see if your wisdom teeth are growing healthily. It is easy for them to spot problems - such as impacted teeth or infections - so they can act quickly before the situation worsens.