Wisdom Teeth Problems

Wisdom Teeth Problems

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

To understand why we have wisdom teeth, a history lesson may be helpful. Scholars and anthropologists believe that our ancient ancestors needed extra teeth for grinding and chewing tough grains and meat; a few extra teeth also came in handy as teeth were lost, rotted, or damaged. Nowadays, it seems like wisdom teeth are nothing if not problematic. This leads one to wonder:  why have wisdom teeth at all? If you have been experiencing problems with your wisdom teeth, here’s what’s going on and why.

A Host of Problems

Your mouth has enough space for 28 teeth. Now add four more, and it makes for a tight fit. Located behind your molars, wisdom serve no particular purpose, except for causing a host of problems. This third set of molars can erupt at the rear of the jaw, potentially causing damage as well as a ripple effect of displacement; this can be especially frustrating for those who have worn or currently wear orthodontic apparatus. Wisdom teeth are extremely difficult to clean and can cause decay of not only the wisdom tooth, but any neighboring teeth. Of most concern, they can cause red or swollen gums, tenderness, abscesses, infections, and gum disease.  Cysts can form when the wisdom tooth develops within a small sac that can fill with fluid, damaging other teeth, nerves and the jawbone. When this happens not only does the tooth require extraction, but some jawbone may have to be removed as well.

Extracting Wisdom Teeth

When wisdom teeth become a problem, extraction is necessary. The long-held view on wisdom teeth is to have them extracted between 18-26 years of age, before they do cause problems. Due to their location and whatever their condition at the time, extraction can be tricky. Extraction procedures generally are performed in the office of a dentist or oral surgeon. Anesthetics can be local or general; the decision most often is based on personal preference, insurance coverage, and/or your dentist’s recommendation. If the tooth is impacted, expect the procedure to take a bit longer; that’s because your dentist or oral surgeon will not only want to retrieve the tooth, but also as much damaged bone as possible, taking care to ensure that no tissue, bone, other teeth or nerves are affected.

In the Majority

An estimated 75% to 80% of people with wisdom teeth would have problems if they were not extracted. It’s quite common for teens and college kids to spend their winter break putting ice packs on their face or sipping warm broth after having had one or more wisdom teeth extracted. Still, some people never experience complications with their wisdom teeth and live quite contently with all 32 adult teeth. The concern, of course, is health and safety. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to complications; for this reason it often is best to remove all four teeth before an inconvenience becomes a problem.

Dental Care in Eugene

If you or a family member still has one or more wisdom teeth, it’s best to get a professional opinion on the impact they can have in your mouth now, and in the future. Dr. Ari Binder at 360 Dental Group has years of experience performing wisdom teeth removal, as well as extractions for decayed, broken, or damaged teeth. For those who are anxious about dental procedure, Dr. Binder may use sedation with nitrous oxide to help you relax. If you are having problems with your wisdom teeth, or are looking for a great family dentist for all your dental care needs, contact 360 Dental Group today (541) 689-1645 or schedule a consultation online.