3 Signs Your Wisdom Teeth Might Need To Come Out
The Trouble With Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars, located in the very back of your jaw. While children often get their permanent premolars and second molars by age 13, wisdom teeth don’t arrive until near adulthood. Most people won’t have their third molars erupt until their late teens or early twenties, with some not making an appearance until as late as 25 years of age.
Many dentists prefer to remove wisdom teeth during a patient’s teen years, before they even have a chance to erupt. The reason for early wisdom tooth extraction is to avoid possible complications down the road.
Here’s why wisdom tooth extraction is recommended, and the tell-tale signs it’s time for your or your teen’s wisdom teeth to be removed.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
You can thank your ancestors for your wisdom teeth. Early humans had much broader jaws that allowed for non-problematic eruption of wisdom teeth. These third molars made chewing raw meat, hard nuts, and coarse vegetation easier, making these teeth a vital part of early humans’ ability to survive on such a rough diet.
Modern humans have smaller jaws and a diet that requires less chewing power. Most people simply don’t have enough space behind their second molars to allow for their wisdom teeth to erupt without negatively affecting their oral health.
That being said, not everyone has wisdom teeth.
Hypodontia (congenitally missing teeth) is a hereditary condition and generally rare, except in the case of wisdom teeth. Some people have only have one or two wisdom teeth present, while others are missing them entirely. Dentists believe this is simply a genetic factor, meaning children with parents who have hypodontia of their third molars are much more likely to have the same condition.
When do dentists recommend wisdom tooth extraction?
Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most frequently performed elective oral surgery procedures performed in the United States. Approximately 85% of people will have their wisdom teeth extracted, either as a proactive measure or as a solution to related oral health problems.
Here are the 3 most common signs your wisdom teeth need to come out.
1. X-rays show impacted wisdom teeth, or your jaw is too small to support wisdom teeth.
Your first conversation with your dentist about wisdom teeth often occurs after having X-rays taken. If your dentist notices that your wisdom teeth are impacted, or coming in at an odd angle, this is a serious concern. Your dentist will recommend having them removed before they begin to erupt and interfere with your second molars.
Similarly, your dentist will also recommend their removal if your wisdom teeth are straight but X-rays show your jaw is too small to accommodate them.
2. You’re experiencing pain or tenderness around the back of your jaws, especially around your molars.
A common symptom of wisdom tooth eruption is a feeling of soreness and discomfort around the second molars and back of the jaw. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a lot of generalized pain in this area, especially when they’re pushing up against the roots of your second molars.
It’s important to discuss your tooth pain with your dentist right away, and follow through with wisdom tooth extraction if recommended.
3. Your bite alignment is changing because of the erupting wisdom teeth pushing against neighboring teeth.
Perhaps you’ve decided to let your wisdom teeth come in naturally. They are slowly erupting through your gums, but you’re noticing that your teeth seem to have changed position. Your bite alignment may be shifting, and now your teeth don’t match up the way they used to because they’re being pushed to the left or right.
Changing bite alignment is a serious side effect of allowing wisdom teeth to erupt when there isn’t adequate jaw space. Your wisdom teeth will need to be removed and you may also need orthodontic care to realign your bite.
What can happen if I allow my wisdom teeth to stay?
If your allow your wisdom teeth to fully erupt, you’re at a risk of developing several oral issues, including:
- Chronic jaw pain, perhaps even with impaired mobility of temporomandibular joint function.
- Development of severe malocclusion, leading to crowded teeth or side effects similar to bruxism, including teeth grinding and abnormal wearing of enamel.
- Infection in the gum tissues around the second and third molars, which can develop into a serious medical emergency if left untreated.
A serious concern with impacted wisdom teeth is the chance of a dental abscess or infection. The mouth is a vascular area of the body, with a highway of blood vessels connected throughout your body. A dental infection is not only dangerous for your oral health, but also your overall physical health, making it a potentially life-threatening condition as it reaches an advanced stage.
Find out if your wisdom teeth could harm your oral health.
Dr. King keeps a close eye on the dental development of his child and teen patients so he can determine the best time for wisdom tooth extraction. New adult patients will also have X-rays taken, and if they still have wisdom teeth, Dr. King will discuss whether or not they should be removed. If you’ve experienced damage or malocclusion from your wisdom teeth, our team will be able to help you fully recover through restorative, orthodontic, or cosmetic dentistry services.
Get in touch with our family dental practice in Virginia Beach via phone or online request to have your or a family member’s wisdom teeth evaluated.