Having your wisdom teeth taken out is a rite of passage for many American teenagers especially during their college years. The American Dental Association documents that five million people have their wisdom teeth out each year. Most patients are between the ages of 17 and 25.
Despite this statistic, many adults still have their wisdom teeth. The dental industry has gone through phases over the years where at times it has been believed that wisdom teeth should be removed to prevent issues and at other times that it is okay to leave them in place if they are not causing any issue. Regardless, these third molars may still cause problems at any time in an adult’s life leading to wisdom teeth extraction.
Third molars were named wisdom teeth because they come in later in life as a teen nears adulthood. While many people have all four, about 25 percent of all human beings are born with one to three wisdom teeth. Oddly enough, about 35 percent of people are born without any wisdom teeth.
Possible Wisdom Tooth Issues That Need Evaluation
There are oral health reasons for wisdom teeth extraction in adulthood. Here are some of the signs you may need to discuss your wisdom teeth with your dentist or an oral surgeon:
- Gum Disease – Gum disease should be taken very seriously because it can be a predictor of other health issues like heart attack and stroke. It can affect your teeth and jaw and since wisdom teeth are more difficult to clean, gum disease can be especially problematic for them. Removing the wisdom teeth may be a course of action in treating your gum disease.
- Tooth Decay – As noted, wisdom teeth are difficult to clean. They are often crowded making brushing and flossing more difficult leading to tooth decay. Taking the wisdom teeth out may be necessary to save the healthy teeth around them.
- Wisdom tooth Infections – Sometimes the wisdom teeth come in partly causing a pocket to form which can fill with food, plaque and bacteria. This will lead to infection and could spread to other teeth and the gums. These types of infections are very serious and could be life-threatening if they spread to your bloodstream.
- Tooth Pain – As an adult, you may be taken by surprise if your wisdom teeth begin to hurt. Overtime they may press on the nerves and this causes pain. Cavities in them may lead to pain as well. If pain seems to be coming from your wisdom tooth, an immediate evaluation is recommended.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you visit your dentist for evaluation, the first assessment that will need to be done is x-rays of your mouth. This will help determine the method of treatment needed. Most dentists do not do oral surgery, and, therefore, you will be referred to an oral surgeon. On the day of the procedure you will be given local anesthetic with shots around your teeth and in the gum.
If the tooth is through the gum there will be less need for an incision. If it hasn’t broken through, then a small incision will be made to reach the wisdom tooth. The tooth may need to be broken apart to be removed. You will feel pressure but shouldn’t feel any pain. The removal can vary from a few minutes to up to thirty minutes if needed.
If you have incisions, you will most likely have dissolving stitches. The surgeon will give you a list of ways to keep the surgery area clean and without infection. It is important to follow the directions. If an infection does occur, you will be given an antibiotic. The surgery may be a little tougher on an adult than it is on a teen. However, you should feel okay after a few days of healing.
No matter your age, if any of these issues begin to be noticeable, you should make an appointment for an evaluation of your wisdom teeth with your dentist or oral surgeon. You don’t want to let any of the concerns go because it can be dangerous not only for your oral health, but also for your overall health as well. The faster you make an appointment, the quicker you will find relief with treatment from an oral surgeon and their staff.