To extract or not to extract—that is the question. Corny Shakespeare jokes aside, wisdom teeth extraction is a common dental procedure. Any dentist in Corpus will tell you that they lose count of how many of these extractions they’ve done. It’s about as common as getting tonsils taken out, and ironically similar when you think about it.
You see, wisdom teeth, or third molars to those who listen to their dentist, are the last set of teeth you get. They typically emerge in your late teens to early twenties. However, for some individuals, these teeth cause a lot of problems.
Some people make the decision to preemptively remove them just to avoid any complications. Other patients decide just to leave them alone figuring they’re not gonna do any harm. They very may well be right they might not do any harm. However, you never can tell, so let’s take a look at the potential consequences of not removing your wisdom teeth.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth If We Don’t Need Them?
This is probably the most often asked question when we see a patient having trouble with wisdom teeth. It doesn’t seem to make sense right? All this trouble for these teeth to come in—and you don’t even use them.
Well, the answer has no verifiable answer, but many anthropologists believe wisdom teeth are remnants of our ancestors. Ancient man had larger mandibles and ate a diet that was very tough and fibrous. Their diet consisted mainly of tree roots, raw meat, and nuts.
Naturally, a diet like that is going to require some serious chewing. So, according to scientists, ancient man possessed third molars for these tasks. However, over time our diet shifted with cooking methods and meat processing, etc.
Over time, human jaws shrunk and evolved into a streamlined bone structure. However, our genetics still caused wisdom teeth to develop. That poses a problem because our mouth is not typically big enough for 32 teeth. That being said, not everyone experiences complications from wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth tend to come in between 17 and 25 years of age, which is why they are called “wisdom” teeth. We don’t know why either, because, at 17 to 25, you’re still learning a lot! Not everyone gets the full set of four wisdom teeth either, some even get just one extra molar.
In cases where there isn’t enough room for the extra molars, they can get trapped under the gum line or only emerge partially. When this happens it can cause many issues including infection, pain, and crowding of adjacent teeth. This is what leads to the recommendation by a dentist to extract them.
What If You Don’t Remove Them?
If you decide not to remove your wisdom teeth when they come in you may have no issues whatsoever. However, you could be rolling the dice as you could develop some serious complications. The longer those wisdom teeth stay in the more damage they can do to your other teeth. Not to mention they can cause quite a bit of considerable pain. Complications that might arise can include:
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
One of the most common consequences of choosing not to remove them is impaction. As we’ve already mentioned when there’s not enough space in the jaw to hold those emerging teeth they get stuck underneath the gum line. Even more complicated they can actually get stuck under another tooth pushing that healthy tooth out. When they become impacted they can cause a lot of pain swelling and also a heightened chance of infection.
Misalignment of Teeth
When wisdom teeth emerge they can actually force pressure on neighboring teeth. This can cause the teeth to become crowded and even shift out of alignment. This can cause other issues such as accidentally biting your lip, or tongue or undoing expensive orthodontic work.
Wisdom teeth are hard to clean properly given where they’re located towards the back of the mouth. So they have a tendency to gather a build-up of plaque and bacteria around them. As bacteria and plaque fester there it can cause gingivitis and other infections.
Infections in the gum are very serious because if not treated it’s very easy for them to get worse and get into the bloodstream. When an infection gets into your bloodstream you can develop a condition called sepsis and it can be fatal.
Also, the bacteria that builds up around those extra molars can cause you to have constant bad breath known as halitosis. It may be the most minor consequence but nonetheless, it can make it embarrassing to go out and interact with people.
Development of Cysts and Tumors
In rare cases, these extra molars can develop cysts or even tumors. Growths like these can damage your jaw your other teeth and even the nerve endings, causing serious pain. This can end up resulting in more serious procedures of an invasive nature to remove any affected teeth.
This is another consequence that not many people really think about. However, the upper wisdom teeth roots are very close to your sinuses. If these teeth get infected or develop cysts they can also cause sinus pain and other related issues such as nasal congestion. Typically these complications are chronic unless you remove the wisdom teeth. You may even need sinus surgery to rectify the damage.
Decay and Cavities
Circling back to gum disease and how wisdom teeth tend to harbor bacteria and plaque, there are also susceptible to developing cavities. If those cavities are left untreated the tooth can decay and even though you don’t need the wisdom teeth it can spread that to other teeth. So effectively, you could end up losing your other teeth due to the wisdom teeth that should have been extracted.
Benefits Of Removing Your Wisdom Teeth ASAP
You may never have any complications from your wisdom teeth if you choose not to have them removed. However, Should you not be so lucky the complications that can arise can be very serious. So rather than focus on what happens if you don’t remove them, let’s look at the benefits of extraction.
Prevention of Complications
By being proactive and having your wisdom teeth removed once they come in you can avoid all of the above consequences. It’s that simple. You’ll be saving yourself possible pain a lot of discomfort and some long-term dental problems. Furthermore, the longer you wait to get your wisdom teeth extracted the harder it is to remove them and more expensive.
Improved Oral Hygiene
When you get your wisdom teeth removed you give your oral hygiene practice an instant boost. Because brushing and flossing are going to be a lot more effective without the other teeth crowding. This is going to lead to better oral hygiene which reduces your risk for plaque buildup, bacteria, and gum disease among other benefits.
Preservation of Orthodontic Work
Now, if you’ve never had braces or any kind of orthodontic work this might not mean anything to you. However, if you’ve gone through the trouble to get orthodontic work you know how much it costs and how invasive it is. But you get the orthodontic work to help perfect your smile and correct alignment. If you don’t get wisdom teeth removed he can end up undoing all of that money you spent at the orthodontist. In fact, you could be actually making your problems worse and cautioning yourself even more money. It’s just not worth it.
Considering Extracting Your Wisdom Teeth?
Just because you don’t seem to be having trouble with your wisdom teeth right now, doesn’t mean you’re free and clear. As you can see removing your wisdom teeth has many benefits. However, leaving them in could cause serious complications.
Come in and see Dr. Vela. He can take a look at your teeth and see what it’s going to take to get them removed and avoid complications. Contact us today!