There are two camps on the subject of wisdom teeth. One side points to impacted third molars, infections, and painful cysts that form around wisdom teeth, and says “remove them before they cause trouble.” The other side points at the many people who have kept their wisdom teeth without issue and cries “there’s no need for systematic removal.”
To learn more about wisdom teeth, visit Texas Oral Surgery Specialists for an appointment with Colleyville oral surgeon Dr. Chris Tye. We provide Fort Worth, Keller, Flower Mound, and Euless wisdom teeth removal. Call 817-552-3223 for an appointment.
The American Dental Association does not suggest that all wisdom teeth should be extracted, but it warns patients to have their doctor assess their risk of future complications. This is sound advice, and all teenagers should have regular dental care, so their dentist can monitor the growth of their wisdom teeth via routine dental x-rays. Given the problems that wisdom teeth can cause, many people choose to have them extracted, even if their dentist does not see signs of eruption problems.
Complications of Wisdom Teeth Eruption
There are several unpleasant things that can happen when wisdom teeth try to erupt into a jaw that doesn’t have room for them:
- Impaction: when wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to erupt, they can press painfully against the other teeth or the jaw bone. Some sit at angles, some appear fully horizontal, and some are fully vertical but are trapped underneath the jaw bone.
- Cysts: painful tumors or cysts can develop in the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth at the site of impaction, sometimes becoming infected.
- Tooth Decay: partially erupted teeth can be extremely hard to clean, especially if there is very little tooth above the gum line.
- Gum Disease: again, partially erupted wisdom teeth are hard to clean, and some patients develop an inflammatory gum condition caused pericoronitis.
Can I Keep My Wisdom Teeth?
Many people seem to have plenty of room in their jaw for wisdom teeth. They opt not to have them removed and the teeth erupt through the gums to join the other two molars. This gives those patients an extra set of chewing and grinding tools. Wisdom teeth success, yes? However, in many of those cases, the problems don’t happen until one or two decades later.
All molars are harder to keep clean than other teeth, due to the deep ridges and crevices on the horizontal surface. Molars at the extreme back of the mouth are incredibly difficult to reach with a toothbrush and dental floss. Even patients who typically don’t get cavities tend to develop them in the wisdom teeth. The best-case scenario is that you are vigilant in your dental care, and continue to see a dentist regularly for the rest of your life. You can count on your dentist noticing signs of decay in the wisdom teeth and restoring them with fillings or root canal therapy. If you are lax in your routine dental visits, there’s a good chance you’ll need to have the wisdom teeth removed at age 40 instead of 17!
Why Some People Are Missing Wisdom Teeth
As the human jaw has grown progressively smaller over the past few millennia, it is ironic that we still grow the same number of teeth to fill those jaws. Or do we? Researchers say that a random mutation some thousands of years ago suppressed the formation of wisdom teeth in certain people. Today, it’s estimated that 10-25 percent of Americans with European ancestry are lacking at least one of their wisdom teeth. The figure is roughly 11 percent for those of African ancestry, and up to 40 percent for those of Asian ancestry. Among the Inuit people the figure is about 45 percent. That’s nearly half. Are wisdom teeth on their way out?
Do you need a consultation to have your wisdom teeth assessed for potential problems? Call our Colleyville office at 817-552-3223 for an appointment with Dr. Tye. We provide Fort Worth, Keller, Flower Mound, and Euless wisdom teeth removal.