Wisdom teeth usually erupt when you’re between the ages of 17 and 21. These four teeth, also known as third molars, grow at the back of your mouth, with one at the end of each upper and lower arch. By the time your wisdom teeth appear, you probably have 28 adult teeth in place, which allows little room for four more.
Removal of wisdom teeth is often advised at the earliest stages because the process is easiest when you’re younger. As you age, the tooth roots of your wisdom teeth become fully formed and the bones in your mouth harden, making removal and post-procedure recovery more complex.
However, everyone’s teeth and mouth develop differently. While wisdom teeth pose a problem for most people, they may not cause any issues for you.
A dental professional can track the development of your wisdom teeth and determine whether removal is necessary. The extraction experts at Rifkin Dental in Yorktown Heights and Carmel, New York, provide comprehensive professional dental services that include wisdom teeth monitoring and extraction when necessary.
Based on a thorough examination and dental X-rays, our team determines the status of your wisdom teeth. By examining the structure of your mouth and the position of your developing wisdom teeth, we can advise whether they are likely to cause problems or if they can be left in place without risking your oral health.
Reasons your wisdom teeth can stay in place
While about 85% of people require the removal of their wisdom teeth during their lifetime, you may be part of the minority that doesn’t need this procedure.
Your dentist may advise leaving your wisdom teeth in place under the following circumstances:
- Your wisdom teeth have erupted and can be easily cleaned as part of your regular daily hygiene, posing little risk of tooth decay and infection, which is commonly associated with teeth positioned at the back of your mouth.
- There is adequate space along your gumline to allow for your wisdom teeth to exist in normal alignment with a proper bite against their opposing teeth.
- The eruption of your wisdom teeth doesn’t force the misalignment or crowding of your existing teeth, which could increase their risk of tooth decay and/or interfere with normal biting and/or speaking.
- Your wisdom teeth aren’t associated with discomfort, swelling, or other health issues.
Reasons your wisdom teeth should be extracted
When your wisdom teeth cause pain, inflammation, and/or other health issues, it’s usually time to consider having them extracted. Your dentist may advise extracting your wisdom teeth if any of the following issues occur:
Impacted wisdom teeth
If your wisdom teeth are described as impacted, it means that the teeth don’t have enough room to break through the gum tissue. An impacted wisdom tooth can grow at an unusual angle, sometimes even erupting horizontally.
In some cases, an impacted wisdom tooth can partially break through the gum tissue. When this occurs, a flap of gum tissue can develop over the partially erupted tooth. This flap can collect food and other debris, creating ideal conditions for bacteria.
The additional gum flap can cause pericoronitis, an infection associated with painful, swollen gums and pus discharge around the affected tooth. Biting and chewing, bad breath, and jaw and neck pain can occur. In advanced stages, facial swelling, jaw spasms, and swollen lymph nodes can interfere with normal breathing and swallowing.
It’s also possible to have impacted wisdom teeth without any accompanying symptoms. Regular dental checkups can ensure your dentist identifies the presence of wisdom teeth early and can advise extraction if they pose a risk of future problems.
When your wisdom teeth push through your gums and try to fit into an already crowded gumline, they can move your existing adult teeth out of place. As your wisdom teeth try to occupy spaces where there isn’t adequate room, they can change the alignment of your entire upper and/or lower arch and damage existing teeth. An irregular bite, difficulty eating and speaking, and pain can result.
You can develop sinus pain, congestion, and pressure when the wisdom teeth in your upper jaw erupt and try to push through your gums. This occurs as your teeth grow roots and the roots rub against your sinuses.
Since your wisdom teeth are positioned deep in your mouth, it can be difficult to properly brush and floss them. Wisdom teeth that emerge in abnormal directions, such as facing the interior of your cheek, are typically harder to clean and increase your risk of developing tooth decay.
A cyst can form around an impacted wisdom tooth that emerges only partially. When this happens, fluid can fill the sac, resulting in a cyst. Left in place, this cyst can cause pain and damage to your adjacent teeth, surrounding nerves, and jawbone.
Find out more about wisdom teeth and when you should consider having yours removed. Schedule a consultation by calling our Yorktown Heights or Carmel office today.