Wisdom teeth got their name because they are the last teeth in the mouth to emerge. They are the least needed for chewing and the most likely to have problems, so roughly 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted each year. At one time, they were routinely removed to prevent possible issues, but today, wisdom teeth that are straight and healthy, and are not crowding the other teeth, may be left in place. If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, though, or if you are having certain other issues, they may need to be removed. Here is what you should know.
If you are having urgent problems with your wisdom teeth, they should be properly evaluated and treated as soon as possible. These include, but are not limited to:
Pain: Healthy wisdom teeth should not cause pain. If you have pain in a wisdom tooth, it indicates a problem such as a cavity, sinus pressure, gum disease, or even a cyst. Since these problems tend to worsen over time, removing the offending wisdom tooth is generally the best course of action.
Damage to the neighboring teeth: Wisdom teeth often crowd the other teeth. If yours are putting pressure on the adjacent teeth, they must be removed to avoid problems such as bite issues and tooth shifting.
Alignment considerations: Crooked wisdom teeth may cause alignment problems with existing dental work such as bridges or braces. Even if your wisdom teeth are otherwise healthy, they must be removed if they are putting other dental work at risk.
Sometimes wisdom teeth need to be extracted to prevent future issues. If wisdom teeth are impacted, or have not fully emerged, they can cause problems down the line. If they are emerging at an unusual angle, and we feel that they will interfere with the other teeth as they grow in, we may recommend removal. Bone hardens over time, so wisdom tooth extractions are more difficult and painful in adults than in teenagers. If yours will need to come out eventually, it is generally best to have them treated as soon as possible.
Straight, Healthy Wisdom Teeth
If you are blessed with naturally straight and healthy wisdom teeth, and there is enough room for them in you mouth, you may be able to keep them. Factors that play a role include your bite, the health of the neighboring teeth, and whether your wisdom teeth are easy to reach with a toothbrush and floss. We use specialized x-rays, a comprehensive clinical exam, and a review of your dental health history when determining whether to recommend removal. If you are in pain or having wisdom tooth related dental problems, though, it only makes sense to take out your wisdom teeth.
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If you need oral surgery in Manhattan, we invite you to schedule a consultation. Contact Mid-Manhattan Oral Surgery today at 212-696-2677.