Does wisdom tooth removal have to be a rite of passage into adulthood? Not necessarily. Depending on your facial features and genetic characteristics, you might be more prone to wisdom tooth troubles than other people. Here are some common scenarios of when we might recommend wisdom tooth removal at our Mesa dentist office.
There Isn’t Room for Them to Erupt
Simply put, a lot of people don’t have room for their wisdom teeth. Maybe they “inherited” a smaller jaw from one parent and larger teeth from the other. Or perhaps impacted wisdom teeth just tend to run in their family. If there isn’t physically enough space for a tooth to erupt, it will become impacted against whatever is next to it.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Can be Painful
When something inside of your bone is growing, it can lead to swelling and pain. We often see the signs of “teething” in young toddlers, never giving it any thought to experience similar discomfort when the wisdom teeth start coming in. Unfortunately, if the wisdom teeth are impacted, it can lead to a more intense level of pain that comes and goes depending on the day.
Because They’re Prone to Decay and Gum Disease
Even if your wisdom tooth erupts partially through the gums, you’ve got plenty of challenges to face. A partially erupted tooth is highly susceptible to plaque and food debris slipping just under the gum tissues and out of reach. No amount of brushing or flossing will be able to clean it out.
Due to their inaccessibility, it’s no surprise that partially erupted wisdom teeth are some of the first areas to see signs of tooth decay and gum disease. Even if it seems like it’s no big deal, these infections can eventually cause irreversible harm on the neighboring healthy teeth. Rather than treat the infection or place a filling in the cavity (and wait for the issue to recur again) it’s typically better to just go ahead and have your wisdom teeth taken out.
They May Move Your Other Teeth
As wisdom teeth develop, they push their way into the mouth. When there’s inadequate space, all of that pressure can lead to a chain-reaction throughout your smile. In time, the front teeth may start to crowd together and overlap. Yes…the pushing and prodding can spread all the way from the back of your mouth!
People who have already gone through orthodontic therapy to straighten their smile need to pay particular attention to wisdom tooth pressure. Even if you’re wearing an orthodontic retainer, it’s possible for wisdom teeth to push hard enough to cause misalignment all over again.
A Tilted Wisdom Tooth May Damage its Neighbor
Let’s say everything so far seems fine with your wisdom teeth, except that it’s erupting at an angle. The pressure that an erupting tooth puts on its neighbor can be strong enough that it causes your healthy tooth to start dying or resorbing (shrinking away). Your healthy teeth are our top priority, so it would be better to remove the wisdom tooth instead of “wait it out.”
There Could be Cysts Involved
An “eruption cyst” is a normal part of tooth development. It’s part of what helps your tooth work its way through your bone and gums, into your mouth. But when teeth don’t erupt properly, the cyst can become enlarged within your jaw or even start to damage the bone surrounding it. It’s not unheard of to see such cysts form around wisdom teeth, leading to jaw trauma if it’s not treated in a timely manner.
When do Wisdom Teeth “Come In”
Everyone’s third molars erupt at different times. Generally, we can tell by the mid-teen years if there are likely to be any wisdom tooth issues or impactions. However, some people never have wisdom tooth pain until they’re in college or their mid to late-20s.
The average wisdom tooth finishes developing by the time most people reach 30 years of age. That’s a window of over a decade of tooth development once wisdom teeth can start to cause problems.
If you’re concerned about you or your teen’s wisdom teeth, you can get quick answers by scheduling a brief evaluation with our Mesa family dentist. At Eastport Dental we have the technology available to capture an image of your wisdom tooth development as it relates to the surrounding structures. From there, you’ll be able to discuss what needs to happen next.
For wisdom tooth exams in Mesa, call Eastport Dental today!