Wisdom teeth don’t always need to be extracted; However, if they are impacted, come in crooked or cause other teeth to shift due to over-crowding, they should be pulled.
What are wisdom teeth and when do they typically come in?
Dr. John Vitale: Wisdom teeth are your third molars. An individual, talking about the upper arch, would have six front teeth, four side teeth and six molars, three on each side. The third molar on each side, top and bottom are called your wisdom teeth. They generally start to come in at approximately age 16 and upward.
What are some signs that the wisdom teeth are impacted and can’t erupt?
Dr. John Vitale: The biggest sign is a swelling of your gum tissue right behind your second molar area and along with the swelling, unfortunately, there is some pain associated with it. Generally you don’t see the eruption of the tooth. You just see everything that is going on but the eruption. At that point in time, it’s well advised to seek dental care and get a picture to see the location and position of the wisdom teeth.
Can wisdom teeth that come in crooked cause problems in the mouth?
Dr. John Vitale: Many times. If wisdom teeth come in crooked, depending on their angle when they come in, sometimes they rest against the lower third of your second molars and they cause a food impaction area to form; and subsequently decay forms and many times if allowed to go undone or untaken care of, we have a situation where people require root canals on second molars because of the positioning of their wisdom teeth.
Is it possible for wisdom teeth to be proactively removed at a certain age to avoid problems?
Dr. John Vitale: Well, the only time that I can think of to proactively remove a wisdom tooth would be in the case of orthodontics. If one’s teeth have to be repositioned, many times the orthodontist when she or he takes a full picture or scan of the person’s mouth, notices the wisdom teeth and their positioning in the mouth and often enough will ask to have those removed.
What is involved in the wisdom tooth extraction process?
Dr. John Vitale: Well, if the wisdom tooth has erupted, then it’s a simple routine extraction, very similar to any other tooth that has to be removed in the mouth. If it’s an impacted wisdom tooth, then it requires a little bit more surgery. It requires flapping of the tissue, possibly removing some bone, possibly sectioning the tooth. It is an extensive and involved procedure.
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