Dental Care

Wisdom Teeth Removal Facts

Want to know more on wisdom teeth removal? Almost everyone has three sets of molars, which are the heavy-duty chewing and grinding teeth found toward the back of the mouth. 

The third molars, set farthest back in the mouth, are often called the wisdom teeth.  Normally, people have four wisdom teeth, one each on the left and right sides of their upper and lower jaws.

Wisdom teeth extraction is a common dental procedure. 

A variety of issues can require the removal of these often-problematic teeth.  For example, their position in the rear of the mouth makes wisdom teeth difficult to brush and floss properly, and as a result, food particles often become trapped and remain lodged behind or around them. 

In essence, the awkward location of wisdom teeth puts them at high risk for tooth decay (cavities) and recurring infections (pericoronitis).  Their location and the resulting difficulty of achieving proper oral hygiene in the area of the wisdom teeth can also lead to gum disease (periodontal disease).

Each of these conditions can be not only painful, but also potentially medically dangerous.  As a result, wisdom teeth removal is sometimes performed during late adolescence or early adulthood as a prophylactic measure. 

The intention is to prevent potentially significant health issues in the future by removing the wisdom teeth before they become a problem. 

Naturally, any existing wisdom teeth that become infected will be removed as they can cause not only a great deal of pain and suffering, but could also lead to the possibility of serious medical complications. 

And, unless extraction would be unsafe for some underlying medical reason, many dentists suggest the removal of impacted wisdom teeth, whether or not they are currently creating a problem. 

The presence of an impacted wisdom tooth can increase the likelihood of damage to adjacent soft tissues as well as nearby teeth and bone.  Removal is usually recommended before these types of complications have the opportunity to occur.

Wisdom tooth misalignment can also cause problems when one or more teeth painfully rub against soft tissues such as the tongue or the inner cheek.  In cases where the resulting pain or discomfort is severe, wisdom teeth removal can be an appropriate way to deal with it.   

Other circumstances that require wisdom teeth removal can only be detected by using dental X-rays. 

These situations include the formation of oral cysts or tumors, damage to a second molar caused by the presence of the adjacent wisdom tooth, and concealed tooth decay occurring on the wisdom tooth or the neighboring second molar.  

However, despite the many valid reasons for their removal, wisdom teeth might not be extracted quite as frequently as they were in the past. 

Some of the almost universally-accepted justifications for wisdom tooth removal in years past are now being challenged and are no longer widely accepted by dentists and other professionals within the field of dentistry.  In fact, many of these previous rationales are now being hotly debated.

Just as one example of this apparent sea change in dental practice, it was previously believed that the presence of wisdom teeth in the mouth could cause the misalignment or shifting of position of other, neighboring teeth.  These issues were thought to be the result of "tooth crowding" caused by insufficient room in the mouth or jaw to accommodate all the teeth properly. 

This widely-held theory resulted in the removal of wisdom teeth for what were essentially orthodontic purposes:  if the room in the jaw or mouth was insufficient, crowding (malocclusion) of the nearby teeth could be prevented by removing the wisdom teeth.  In actuality, however, this "tooth crowding" theory has not been definitely proven by any research.

Summary on Wisdom Teeth Removal

Many patients dread wisdom teeth removal, but for one reason or another, it's fairly common for individuals to have at least one of their wisdom teeth extracted. 

Impactions and infections are frequent reasons for wisdom teeth removal, but several other circumstances can also make the procedure advisable. 

At their heart, the reasons necessitating wisdom teeth removal can be distilled down into two basic rationales: 

(1) the treatment of existing problems,

(2) the prevention of potential problems that might arise in the future. 

As with any other tooth, a wisdom tooth can become infected and require removal. 

But, because of their awkward position in the rear of the mouth, effective oral hygiene is difficult and wisdom teeth are likely candidates for future trouble.


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