Wisdom teeth: why and when they need extracting
Wisdom teeth removal is unique from patient to patient. As the last teeth to appear in healthy adults, their arrival can be relatively painless, or require immediate removal to prevent further issues in the mouth. How your dentist approaches your wisdom teeth will rely on a number of factors: the potential for infection, decay in surrounding teeth, overcrowding, or weakening of the jaw bone.
Below we’ll look at some of the complications they can cause, and when to consider asking your dentist about wisdom teeth removal.
Overcrowding and gum disease
Even before the eruption, and normally in the teenage years, planning extractions is undertaken if an orthodontic issue is present. This is commonly due to overcrowding, where insufficient space or poor alignment of the wisdom tooth will put the neighbouring teeth at risk.
If wisdom teeth are far back in the mouth, this makes them less accessible in regards to maintaining high-quality oral hygiene, which can lead to periodontal disease (gum disease) and decay. Ultimately, this will lead to more complex dental treatment simply to maintain them.
Inflammation and infection
If the wisdom teeth remain in a partially erupted state, they are prone to pericoronitis (an infection surrounding the wisdom tooth itself), potentially leading to an abscess formation. As wisdom teeth rarely all have perfect alignment or appear without issue, this is a common reason for extraction in adults. An inflamed gum area can worsen If left untreated, and pericoronitis can lead to serious health issues.
Your wisdom teeth can be a fantastic asset to your mouth if they are perfectly aligned, though for many this isn’t the case. A regular checkup at your dentist can determine whether any – or all – of your wisdom teeth will lead to further issues as you age.
Wisdom teeth removal
If you’ve spoken with your dentist and ultimately decided to have one or all of your wisdom teeth removed, the process will be fairly straightforward:
- A decision is made to remove the wisdom tooth or teeth.
- An x-ray will be performed to assess the root formation of the tooth, proximity to the major nerve in the lower jaw for lower wisdom teeth, or the sinus cavity in the upper jaw.
- Your dentist will discuss the procedure and any complications: access to the tooth dependent on the size of the mouth, if the tooth has fully erupted, length of the roots, any overlying bone, and any impaction on the neighbouring teeth.
- A decision is then made for local or general anaesthetic and, depending on the severity of the extraction, will be carried out by a dentist or a specialist oral surgeon.
The process of extraction will be entirely dependent on the individual. Extraction can be simple or complex – ranging from basic pressure using a Luxator (a small instrument with a flat blade used for extractions) to substantial bone removal, and crown and root division for surgical extraction. As there is little way of assessing the requirements for wisdom teeth extraction yourself, a visit to the dentist will provide both peace of mind and a clear pathway forward.
Victoria Street Dental – Quality services for all patients
If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, speak to your dentist today to arrange a consultation and x-ray. Victoria Street Dental provides a wide range of dental services. Whether you need an urgent dental appointment or a family dentist for general checkups, speak to your trusted Wellington Dentist.