Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars someone gets, and they usually grow in during the late teens or early twenties. Unlike other teeth, however, wisdom teeth can be pretty unpredictable, and while some people will have all four, others may have one, two, three, or even none grow in. Moreover, wisdom teeth also tend to cause more problems than other teeth, primarily because of how old we are when they do finally erupt. As such, wisdom teeth often get extracted, and here are some common situations when you need them to be removed.
There Isn’t Enough Room in Your Mouth
Spacing in your mouth is crucial, and having too much or too little room to accommodate teeth can lead to a whole lot of problems. If your mouth isn’t big enough, your wisdom teeth will crowd your mouth, and this can lead to malocclusion (misalignment of the bite), chipped and broken teeth, crooked teeth, and more.
The Wisdom Teeth Aren’t Straight
Wisdom teeth can grow straight, crooked, horizontally, and just about any other way they please. An X-ray will show whether your wisdom teeth are growing straight or crooked before they even erupt from your gums. If they’re not straight, your dentist will likely recommend removal. Otherwise, the wisdom teeth could damage other teeth when they grow in.
They’re Fully or Partially Impacted
Impaction happens when teeth don’t fully emerge from the gums, and impaction can either be complete (the teeth form but don’t grow out properly) or partial (the teeth grow out of your gums part way). Impaction can cause a number of problems, including infections and cysts, which can, in turn, lead to nerve damage, jaw damage, and other issues.
You’re in Pain
Emerging teeth is always painful on the gums, but wisdom teeth that are growing in can also cause pain, pressure, and congestion in your sinuses. In these cases—or if the pain is excruciating—your dentist may recommend extraction.
They’re Causing Inflammation
Another problem with wisdom teeth is that the eruption leads to swelling, and this can leave your gums vulnerable to infection and cavities in nearby teeth. Swollen tissue around the eruption site can give bacteria a hiding place and make your mouth difficult to clean, which can result in an oral infection or tooth decay. Although a measure of swelling is to be expected when your wisdom teeth erupt, your dentist may recommend removal if the inflammation is excessive or persistent.
Humans can survive just fine without wisdom teeth, and having these molars removed won’t affect your ability to eat or enjoy foods. In fact, removing your wisdom teeth could improve your oral health and prevent many serious problems, such as infections, cavities, crowding, broken teeth, and much more. If you are currently in your late teens or early twenties and are expecting your wisdom teeth soon, talk to your dentist about options so that you can make an informed decision when the time comes.