Although it’s not necessarily a rite of passage into adulthood, the time for the average wisdom tooth extraction usually lies somewhere within the high school and college years.
Typically, wisdom teeth start erupting during the mid to late-teens, but did you know they can keep growing until a person is almost 30 years of age? If you haven’t had a wisdom tooth extraction while still living at home, you may need one now that you’re out on your own as a working adult!
How can you know when the time is right for a wisdom tooth extraction? Here are some of the most common things to be on the lookout for and to ask your dentist about.
“Come and Go” Pain
One of the classic symptoms of getting your wisdom teeth is an “off-and-on” pain that accompanies them. Wisdom teeth tend to cause sporadic soreness and discomfort, rather than constant pain that never goes away.
If you’ve held onto your wisdom teeth for a long time but the discomfort continues to cycle, there’s a good chance that it’s not going to go away anytime soon. In fact, it may only get worse. The last thing you need is an emergency tooth extraction because you’re unable to go to work or school. Monitor your pain and talk to our Summit Dental Center Houston dentists about how frequently it’s bothering you.
Your Teeth Starting to Crowd Together
Aside from pain, one of the biggest problems with wisdom teeth is the pressure they put on your smile. If you previously wore braces or recently completed your orthodontic therapy, this is a significant concern.
The pushing and pressure caused by your erupting wisdom teeth can cause all the teeth in front of them to shift and tilt out of place. Yes, even the ones at the front of your smile; in fact, you may notice it there first. The last thing you want is to have to go through orthodontic treatment again. Having your wisdom teeth removed can help.
Cavities and Gum Disease
Wisdom teeth can be detrimental to the health of your smile. As odd as it seems, scheduling a wisdom tooth removal can help you protect the rest of your teeth. Why? Because their location makes them extremely difficult to clean; they’re much more likely to develop cavities and gum disease.
Even if you normally have good oral hygiene — and have never even had a cavity in your life! — the characteristics of wisdom teeth make them more prone to infection. They are often partially erupted, making it so that plaque and food debris can seep under the gums where it’s physically impossible to clean it away.
While you could treat the periodontal infection or place a filling to remove the decay, wisdom teeth are at a high risk of infections coming back. It’s usually more cost effective and healthier for our patients to think about wisdom tooth removal once such infections set in.
Cysts Visible on Your Dental X-rays
A panoramic X-ray (“pano”) is a special type of film that we can take at Summit Dental Center to evaluate the development of your wisdom teeth and the surrounding oral structures.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth develop large cysts around them that are damaging to the bone. While a small “eruption cyst” is a normal part of tooth development, these go away once the tooth has broken through the gums. Unfortunately, impacted wisdom teeth may experience more severe cysts that require surgical removal.
They’re Damaging the Tooth Next to Them
During your regular checkups at Summit Dental Center in Houston, we’ll check the teeth next to each wisdom tooth to ensure no problems are developing. Because wisdom teeth are so prone to infection, they can easily facilitate damage in the tooth next to them.
Likewise, wisdom teeth often erupt at an angle, pressing into the next set of teeth. This is the reason they tend to cause crowding. But the extensive pushing may also physically damage the root and nerve structures of the teeth being pushed against.
Swelling and Redness Near the Back of Your Mouth
If you’re between dental checkups and haven’t experienced any wisdom tooth woes to date, be on the lookout for problems like swelling or visible redness. Both of these symptoms indicate infection.
Swelling may be localized to the small pad of tissue just behind your very back molars, or it may extend into your jaw. If severe, limited range of motion when you open and close your mouth may be something that you notice.
Take care to clean the area well and add a warm salt water rinse to your nightly routine. If symptoms don’t improve within a week, contact one of our Houston dentists to find out if you need a wisdom tooth extraction.
Food Getting Stuck
Wisdom teeth are notorious for only erupting partially into the mouth. This creates a small opening in the gums where food gets lodged during meals. You may be able to feel it with your tongue. A toothbrush or water flosser can remove large amounts of debris, but the fact of the matter is that this atypical opening will only be exposed to bacteria over and over. Eventually, it will likely develop a cavity.
Houston Wisdom Tooth Extraction Consultations
The only way to know for certain whether you need to have a wisdom tooth extraction is to see your dentist for an exam and X-ray. During your visit to Summit Dental Center we’ll discuss your concerns and any findings that we’ve made. If oral surgery is in your future, be sure to ask us about our comfortable sedation dentistry options. Contact us today to keep your smile healthy for life!