Wisdom teeth may sound like they’re a good thing, but they can frequently cause problems as they come in. For this reason, many people have them removed, but patients often want to know whether it’s better to have them taken out earlier or later.
In this blog, the dentists at Central Avenue Dental in Valley Stream, NY Queens and Manhattan offer advice about how long you should wait to get your wisdom teeth out.
What are wisdom teeth, and how do you know when you have them?
Wisdom teeth are the third – and final – set of molars that you get during your lifetime. They usually start to come through your gums when you’re between the ages of 17 and 21.
Your dentist may be able to tell that they’re about to come through by taking an X-ray. You may also feel them erupting through your gums, which can cause some discomfort.
What are some reasons why they need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth often cause problems when they start to emerge. If the following problems exist or are expected to occur, your dentist may recommend that they be removed:
- Mispositioning – This can cause food to become trapped and provides an environment in which cavity-causing bacteria can easily grow.
- Improper alignment – Teeth that haven’t come in properly make flossing between your new wisdom teeth and the molars next to it difficult.
- Impaction – Wisdom teeth can partially come through the soft tissue or jawbone but then get stuck. This is known as an impacted tooth and can lead to infection and accompanying pain and swelling. It can also cause a cyst to form, which could damage the roots of other teeth as well as the bone that supports your teeth.
- Lack of room – Wisdom teeth that don’t have room in your mouth may crowd your other teeth.
What signs and symptoms should you look out for?
If you experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, and jaw stiffness, you should make an appointment with your dentist to examine your wisdom teeth. You may also be able to see if they’re coming in crooked or if your mouth doesn’t seem to have room to accommodate your wisdom teeth.
When you receive regular dental checkups, your dentist can check for signs of your wisdom teeth with a periodic X-ray. A visual exam can also help detect the presence of wisdom teeth and reveal whether they’re causing – or are expected to cause – problems.
In general, it’s easier to get them removed at a younger age rather than waiting until you’re older.
What happens during wisdom teeth removal?
Before the doctor performs the surgery, your wisdom teeth and the surrounded tissue will be numbed with a local anesthetic. In addition, your doctor may use another kind of anesthetic as well, such as an intravenous sedative. If your wisdom teeth have erupted, the procedure is no more complicated than a regular tooth extraction. In other cases, they may not have fully erupted, which makes surgery more involved.
Your dental surgeon will carefully create an incision in your gum and will often remove a bit of the tooth at a time. Stitches may be used to seal up your incision, and they may dissolve on their own or may need to be removed by your dentist later.
If you suspect your wisdom teeth may be coming in or would like to talk to a dentist about X-rays to determine whether they may in the near future, make an appointment today with Central Avenue Dental in Valley Stream, NY Queens and Manhattan.