Should I have my wisdom teeth extracted?

November 27, 2013

Wisdom teeth are not as wise as their name may suggest. They can be downright foolish. Keep a sharp eye on them to avoid any unfortunate surprises later on.

Should I have my wisdom teeth extracted?

Wisdom teeth are the last molars to appear. These four adult molars usually develop between the ages of 16 and 25, but they may also appear later in life. It’s exactly for that reason that they are associated with wisdom, although the only real smarts involved have to do with deciding whether or not to have the wisdom teeth extracted.

Lack of space

Depending on the shape and size of your jaw, it’s possible that your wisdom teeth will only partially emerge from the gums. They have to have enough room at the back of the jaw in order to grow properly, and when they can’t, they are said to be impacted, inclusive, or semi-inclusive. This can cause major problems, including:

  • cysts
  • teeth displacement
  • cavities in the other molars
  • pericoronitis (inflamed gums around the molars)
  • infections

Should my wisdom teeth be pulled?

Because of these problems, wisdom teeth were extracted on a systematic basis for many years. However, these days, dentists do not automatically remove wisdom teeth. Rather, they carry out a thorough visual examination of the patient’s mouth and take X-rays.

From these observations they can then predict, to the best of their knowledge, the final position that the wisdom teeth will occupy in the mouth and the impact they may have on the other teeth. In the eventuality that one or more wisdom teeth could prove to be problematic, dentists will inform their patients who can then decide whether to have them removed or not. In the case where patients decide to keep their wisdom teeth, it is important to have them examined regularly in order to prevent problems from occurring.

Pulling wisdom teeth

The extraction of wisdom teeth is not confined to teenagers. Many adults have their wisdom teeth removed in order to prevent or counter a tooth or gum infection that occurs later in life. In general, however, both the extraction and the recuperation are easier for teenagers.

The operation is carried out by a dental surgeon, who typically uses a local anesthetic. Of course, other options do exist and these can be discussed with the dentist. The operation itself is not painful and its duration varies from one patient to another. Each tooth takes approximately 30 minutes to remove.

After the operation

When wisdom teeth are pulled, the first question most people ask is, “Will my face swell up?” This is a difficult question to answer. The effects vary from one person to another, depending on his or her age and how the operation progressed. Smokers are also more at risk of complications. Generally speaking, swelling and some sensitivity can last from three to five days. Dentists can prescribe medicine to help with the pain, if necessary, to limit any discomfort.

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