The third molars, or what’s more commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, typically erupt through the gums in children and adults between the ages of 17 and 25. Having one’s wisdom teeth removed has become a “rite of passage” or sorts, with an estimated 5 million Americans undergoing the procedure each year. But this begs the question: do wisdom teeth really need to be removed?
Only a qualified and licensed dentist or oral surgeon can determine whether or not a patients wisdom teeth should be removed. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the procedure when one or more of the following symptoms are present:
- Damage to nearby teeth
- Potential to damage nearby teeth
- Tooth decay
One of the most common problems associated with wisdom teeth is the potential for impaction on the second molars (the teeth farthest from your mouth). If a person’s wisdom teeth are not removed at an early age, they may come in sideways – towards the roots of the second molars. Once here, they will push the teeth forward and promote crowding in the mouth, which can make it difficult for the individual to floss correctly.
In addition, wisdom teeth may also promote decay deep around the root while leaving the area susceptible to infection. When wisdom teeth are forced into an already “full” mouth, it creates pocket areas where food, debris, and subsequently bacteria can thrive. Some studies suggest that as upwards of 12% of people who decide to keep their wisdom teeth will experience an infection.
Wisdom teeth removal has become a rather simple procedure that can be performed while the person is awake or while they are sedated. Methods of sedation vary depending on the surgeon’s preference, but IV sedation, oral premedication, and nitrous oxide are frequently administered to patients during this procedure.
Like all surgical procedures, there are inherit risks associated with wisdom teeth removal, including infection, nerve damage, dry socket (blood clot is dislodged or otherwise destroyed), weakening of the jaw bone, and sinus damage. Following the surgeon’s guidance, both before and after the surgery, will reduce the risk of complications from occurring.
If you are contemplating whether or not the procedure is right for you, talk with one of our dentists in Little Rock. To make an appointment, simply give us a call at (501) 954-9900.