Wisdom teeth or third molars are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When properly aligned, and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen.
When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The infection results in swelling, jaw pain and illness.
The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they
- Grow sideways
- Partially emerge from the gum
- Remain trapped beneath the gum and bone,
referred to as impacted wisdom teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause many problems:
- Pain is the most common complaint. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth pushing on the roots of adjacent second molars or the gum can be unbearable.
- Displacement of other teeth and disruption of the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth.
- The most serious possibility is tumors or cysts forming around the impacted wisdom
tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth.
Removal of the impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended. Younger patients heal faster and avoid the increased risk of infection found in older patients.
When considering orthodontic alignment of teeth in the dental arch, space consideration is an important factor. Your orthodontist and dentist will determine the amount of space necessary to facilitate movement of teeth. When additional spacing is needed, some non-strategic tooth or teeth can be sacrificed to create the room necessary for orthodontic movement of your teeth.
Other Impacted Teeth
Your teeth began their development deep within your jaw bone. If all goes according to plan, they should surface through the gums. When they don't make it through the gums and remain embedded in the jaw, they are considered impacted. Impacted teeth that don't show symptoms or evidence of causing future problems can often be left alone. Routine annual radiographic examinations to monitor their progress are sufficient.
Removal of the impacted teeth is indicated when they prevent eruption of neighboring teeth, orthodontic movement of teeth, or dental implant placements. They should also be extracted if they create pain or develop destructive cysts or tumors.
Even with all that dentistry has to offer patients today, sometimes the amount of decay is beyond repair. When this happens, your dentist will recommend its removal to avoid future problems and suggest several options for tooth replacements, such as a dental implant.