Our patients often wonder why we recommend wisdom tooth extractions, or what the purpose of wisdom teeth even is. We are eager to help you better understand the benefits of removal and the extraction process! Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about those tricky third molars.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Human ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind up food that was hard to digest. They had large jaws and powerful teeth with plenty of room for a third set of molars.
Modern humans, however, eat cooked foods and have a more effective digestive system, so we have evolved smaller jaws and teeth. This means less room in our mouths for wisdom teeth.
Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?
There are several reasons why you may benefit from having your wisdom teeth extracted, as wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term and long-term complications.
- Impaction: If there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. You may experience pain or discomfort while eating due to impaction. These days everyone is so focused on Invisalign and straightening their front teeth, that they forget about the fact that with orthodontic movement the posterior teeth are pushed further back…causing impaction of the third molars.
- Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your second molars, potentially damaging them and making them more susceptible to tooth decay. On a daily basis, we are extracting 3rd molars and the adjacent teeth (2nd molars) due to damage. The cost of replacing just one tooth (the 2nd molar), the more than removing all 4 third molars…. $4000-6000 for replacement of a single tooth, extraction of all third molars $2500-3500.
- Gum Disease: Impactions also allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at risk for bad breath, inflammation, cysts, and periodontal (gum) disease.
When should I get my wisdom teeth out?
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, which means that many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. The longer you wait, the more complications may arise. The roots of your wisdom teeth continue growing as you get older and may eventually come in contact with a nerve. At this point, nerve damage is a possible outcome of wisdom tooth extraction. The longer the roots, the more the likely you are to have a nerve injury.
When are wisdom teeth okay to keep?
Sometimes, wisdom teeth have room to erupt healthily and do not need to be extracted. If this is the case, your dentist may recommend you keep your third molars. The wisdom teeth have to be cleansible, meaning you should be able to floss the back side of your third molars.
Make sure you are coming in for regular check ups so our team can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Consult with our practice about the right course of action for your wisdom teeth, because everyone’s teeth are different.