Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth

Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed? This is a very common question dentists are asked on a regular basis and a lot of patients are confused about. The simple answer is that no, not all wisdom teeth have to be removed. A careful assessment is made for each patient and their situation, in hopes of preventing any dental emergencies. Through the use of clinical exams, patient history and complete intra-oral x-rays, your dentist can determine if it is in your best interest to keep your wisdom teeth or have them removed. This article will try to explain the case in which your wisdom teeth should be removed and when they can be left as is.

First, let’s talk about what wisdom teeth are. Most people have 32 adult teeth. Of these teeth, there are 12 teeth that are known as “molars”. These teeth are located at the back of each jaw with 3 molars per quadrant (ie. 3 molars in the upper left, 3 molars in the lower left, etc). The last of these molars (furthest back) are called your third molars. These teeth usually erupt into the mouth in your late teens or early 20’s, and since this the time most people arrive at the age of wisdom, they earned the nickname of wisdom teeth. Some people are born without some or all of their wisdom teeth. For many people, these teeth can get stuck in the bone or under the gums and this is known as being “impacted”. If the teeth poke out of the gums but do not fully come out, then this is known as “partial eruption”.

For those people whose wisdom teeth fully erupt into their mouths, have no pain or discomfort associated with the teeth, can easily clean and maintain them, have no cavities in them and aren’t causing any detrimental effects on the other teeth, then there is no need to have them removed. They can be checked at your regular dental appointments and monitored for any change.

Reasons to have them removed are the following:

Pain – wisdom teeth can cause pain in your jaw, gums, teeth or temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Impacted – impacted wisdom teeth don’t always have to be removed but most of the time it is a good idea. Impacted teeth can affect other teeth or develop cysts.

Partially Erupted – the gums still covering part of the teeth can get infected and inflamed because it allows bacteria to travel underneath.

Infections – wisdom teeth can develop infections that can be quite severe.

Decay – if your wisdom teeth develop decay (cavity) and cannot be repaired then they should be removed.

Damage to teeth – sometimes when they are erupting they can push into the teeth in front of them and cause damage or crowding.

Gum Disease – if the wisdom teeth develop gum disease that leads to mobility or deep pocketing, then they should be removed.

Over-eruption – If the teeth don’t have a tooth to bite against, then teeth can continue to erupt until they hit the opposite arch. This can lead to problems in your bite.

Through careful assessment, your dentist can determine if any of the above statements apply to you. As always, the final decision is yours, but it’s important to have all your facts before you make your decision. So if you have any questions or concerns, then sit down with your local dentist and have a full assessment completed. If you require a Langley dentist, then give us a call today!

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