Just because most of us don’t need a third set of molars, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep them when we get them. Here’s a rundown of the factors you need to consider when it comes to being or not being a wise mouth.
What happens when wisdom teeth come in
“Come in,”—those are the operative words. The main problem people have with their wisdom teeth is that when they come in there’s not enough room for them. They are literally a third set of molars that typically don’t arrive until we hit our mid to late teens. If they cannot erupt (break through) your gums, they become impacted. Impacted teeth can be painful and can get infected.
And if your wisdom teeth do break through your gums, you’re still not off the hook. Wisdom teeth are sometimes not very easy to reach when flossing and brushing, leading to cavities and gum disease. In some cases, a cyst can form, causing damage to your roots.
All this is why it’s extremely wise to let your dentist examine you when your wisdom teeth begin to show up. He or she can’t predict the future, but he or she can see if things look normal, problematic or something in between.
What happens when wisdom teeth come out
If your wisdom teeth are causing problems for you and your dentist recommends removal, you should be aware of the potential complications. It’s not a bad idea to even get a second opinion from another dentist. That’s because the complications, while not common, are quite serious. Here’s a list of potential problems:
- Pain and swelling—Your tooth socket and its surrounding gums undergo some trauma when a tooth is removed. It figures you will experience pain and swelling after.
- Bleeding—A little bit of bleeding is natural, but if bleeding continues 24 hours after procedure, that’s a problem.
- Trismus—This is the fancy word for jaw pain when trying to open your mouth wide.
- Dry socket—This is a fairly common complication following wisdom tooth removal. It usually happens several days after the extraction when blood clotting dissolves too soon.
- Abscess—A pocket of pus can develop when debris is trapped between the extraction socket and the tissue covering the bone.
- Damage to dental work—Crowns, bridges, or nearby roots could get damaged during a procedure.
- Numbness—Local anaesthetics can cause injury or swelling to the nerves in your jaw, causing numbness. Most times it goes away, but not always.
- Sinus cavity opening—If a wisdom tooth is removed from the upper jaw, your sinuses could be affected.
All of these issues are most often managed just fine with a trip to your dentist or urgent care provider. There’s a solution to all these potential problems, but you should be prepared that you may have to deal with them if or when they arise.
What happens when wisdom teeth don’t come out
Just because there can be complications when wisdom teeth are removed, you should still consider the benefits of removal. Or, consider the things that could go wrong when you don’t remove wisdom teeth:
- Partial break through—If your teeth only come partially through the gums it can cause a flap of gum tissue to grow over them. Food then gets easily stuck there, leading to infection.
- Damage to other teeth—Impacted teeth can cause infection and damage to your other teeth and bones, especially if the newer teeth are coming in at odd angles. This is how cysts form.
- Cavities and gum disease risk increase—Because it’s hard to brush and floss the back part of your mouth, the likelihood of cavities and gum disease increases. Visit your dentist twice a year or more to mitigate these miseries.
- Complications with future orthodontic treatment—If a separate dental or orthodontic issue arises for you down the road, impacted or partially emerged molars are going to make it harder, not easier, to treat that issue.