Have you ever wondered whether you need your wisdom teeth? The answer is… not really! Although our ancestors used these teeth to chew tough and fibrous food, today’s foods are considerably easier to eat than those procured by our ancestors.
Because wisdom teeth come in so late, many people consider having them extracted, but is this truly necessary? It depends. Every situation is different. At our Fort Worth dental office, Dr. Nikki Green is skilled in the art of wisdom tooth removal. If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, let us know so we can address this issue.
What Are Wisdom Teeth, Anyway?
Your wisdom teeth are your last set of four molars. Coming in between the ages of 17 to 25, they are what are called vestigial, which means structures or attributes that are genetically determined but have lost almost all of the function they had for our ancestors (other vestigial organs include the appendix and your coccyx, or tailbone). Your wisdom teeth may not even come in at all or the number that emerge may vary, meaning you could have more or less than four wisdom teeth that actually erupt (break through) the gum tissue.
When Should You Have Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
“Impaction” is the most common reason that we extract wisdom teeth. This is when the eruption of the tooth is blocked by another tooth or gum tissue. This occurs in approximately 72% of all people.
Impaction is often painful and typically requires that the affected wisdom tooth comes out. Other reasons we might recommend extraction are:
There is not enough room in the mouth, so the wisdom tooth grows into the side of the cheek. As there will never be enough room, the only solution is extraction.
- The wisdom teeth are putting too much pressure on your other teeth, leading to crowding or even erosion.
- Dental disease or decay
My Teeth Aren’t Causing Problems. Should I Have Them Removed Just in Case?
Since extraction of wisdom teeth often requires a surgical procedure, we don’t remove them unless it’s necessary. As with all surgeries, there are a certain number of risks that are inherent. Besides possible reactions to the anesthesia and risk of infection, there are certain restrictions you need to follow, such as no smoking or drinking from straws during the recovery period, which can be a couple days up to a week.
It’s important to follow the after-care directions provided by Dr. Green. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing a condition known as “dry socket.” When this happens, the blood clot that forms in the area of the extraction dissolves or is removed before it is ready, leaving the bone and nerves in the tooth socket open to air, food, or liquids. This condition is quite uncomfortable, but it is treatable.
The bottom line is: Unless there is a medical or dental reason to have your wisdom teeth extracted, such as impaction or decay, it is usually best to avoid surgery. If you do need surgery, however, it’s important to choose a dentist who you can trust to perform your wisdom tooth extraction as skillfully and comfortably as possible.
To determine whether you need an extraction, contact Fort Worth Cosmetic and Family Dentistry at (817) 737-6601 today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Nikki Green.