Wisdom Teeth 101

Wisdom Teeth X-ray
There is a lot of misinformation about wisdom teeth and what you should do about them. Do you really need them? What happens if they never come in? Are there risks/benefits for keeping them versus removing them? And do they really give you wisdom?! 😉 Slight joke on the last one, but we are here to help answer questions about wisdom teeth.

Let’s start with when they can stay and when they should go.

You can KEEP your wisdom teeth if:

  • There is enough room in your jawbone for them to come in straight
  • You can access them to keep them clean.
  • If the tooth is positioned so far down in the jawbone where it is unlikely to ever cause a problem. These teeth are monitored over the patient’s lifetime.

You can NOT keep your wisdom teeth if:

  • There is inadequate room in your jawbone for the tooth to come in normally.
  • You cannot access the tooth to keep it clean.
  • The tooth is not positioned correctly, making it likely to either get infected or to potentially cause damage to the adjacent teeth.

Problems with Wisdom Teeth

Problems with Wisdom Teeth
Part of the consideration is also to think about the common problems that can occur with wisdom teeth. These can factor into the teeth needing to “go.”

  1. Pericoronitis – this is inflammation and/or infection of the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth. This can cause severe pain that radiates across the whole side of the face all the way up to the ear. This occurs because the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth cannot be cleaned adequately.
  2. Pressure sensation – uncomfortable pressure of teeth attempting to come through the gums without space to do so.
  3. Supra-eruption of the tooth – a lone wisdom tooth will “drop down” over time.
  4. Cavities and eventual infection– Wisdom teeth that cannot be cleaned will get a cavity. When there are “tipped” wisdom teeth, it is also very common for the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth to get cavity.
  5. Tipping of teeth – wisdom teeth can tip forward into empty spaced and end up sideways.

Wisdom Teeth Causing a Cavity
This photo shows an example of a wisdom tooth causing a cavity. It was difficult to keep the teeth clean because of the position of the wisdom tooth.

If you have questions about your or your children’s wisdom teeth, please call and schedule a consult with us. We will review your options and discuss the best recommendation moving forward.