When Do You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Though you may not experience discomfort, dentists often recommend extraction of wisdom teeth. This often leads patients wondering whether recommended extractions are necessary.

There are many reasons for  wisdom teeth extraction. Dentists are able to use radiographs to determine many features about both the teeth and jaw that lead to their ultimate recommendation on extraction. Here are some reasons warranting extraction:

1. If misaligned or growing crooked, wisdom teeth may force other teeth in the jaw to become out of alignment. This may lead to problems with your bite, and can also inhibit proper hygiene in the back of your mouth.

2. A small jaw may mean that, despite wisdom teeth growing in the correct position, the patient may not have enough room in the arch for all of the teeth. In this case, dentists frequently recommend extracting wisdom teeth to “make space” to position the other teeth in alignment with the arch of the jaw.

3. If there are problems (i.e. infection) in the wisdom teeth, patients sometimes develop symptoms related to the sinuses. In patients that are having sinus pressure, congestion, or pain, wisdom teeth and extraction may be recommended.

4. Keeping wisdom teeth and the surrounding gum tissue clean is often difficult because of their location. Without proper hygiene, patients may begin to experience gum and jaw bone issues, and, in some cases, cavities may form on the wisdom teeth.

If you and your dentist determine that extraction is required for either preventative reasons or because of existing infection or pathology, there is no need to panic. Wisdom teeth extraction is a routine procedure that can be done both by general dentists and oral surgeons. Typically, more complex extractions that involve teeth with multiple roots in difficult to reach locations are referred to oral surgeons.

No matter where the extraction is completed, your provider will insure that you are comfortable. The area around the teeth to be extracted will be numb, and in some cases Nitrous Oxide or other forms of sedation may be used. After the procedure patients typically feel a bit of soreness and swelling, and any discomfort can typically be managed with ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain reliever. In rare instances, your dentist may prescribe a prescription pain reliever.

If you have any doubts about why your dentist is recommending an extraction, be sure to ask him/her to explain. And, while often extractions can be delayed, know that if you have pain or swelling, you should see your dentist immediately.