Questions,Dental Health

What Happens If You Don’t Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

What Happens If You Don’t Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth often come up in conversations about dental health for teens and young adults. You might be wondering whether you’ll have to get your wisdom teeth removed and what could happen if you don’t. It’s a common question among youth and their parents, with some important answers worth considering.

What are Wisdom Teeth, and Why Do We Have Them?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop in your mouth. They typically appear in your late teens or early twenties. The name “wisdom teeth” stems from the age at which they emerge, but in many cases, there’s nothing wise about keeping them.

So why do we have wisdom teeth? The common consensus among anthropologists is that wisdom teeth were essential for our ancestors, whose diets consisted of leaves, roots, nuts, and meats requiring considerable chewing power and leading to premature tooth loss. As human diets have changed and cooking methods have evolved, the need for these extra molars to fill in gaps has diminished.

From an evolutionary standpoint, human jaws have become smaller over the past few thousand years, but teeth have not adapted as quickly. This discrepancy often leaves inadequate room for wisdom teeth to emerge properly, leading to various dental issues if they are not extracted.

With today’s softer diets and advances in oral care, tooth loss before age 25 is relatively uncommon. Plus, most people’s jaws leave little room for this third row of molars. Therefore, wisdom teeth are often more of a bother than a blessing.

Potential Problems with Wisdom Teeth

While not all patients need their wisdom teeth removed, many people experience problems if this procedure is not performed. The most common concerns include:

  • Overcrowding and misalignment: Overcrowding is when wisdom teeth emerge in a mouth that’s too small to accommodate them. This can cause teeth to shift out of place, sometimes undoing the effects of braces or other orthodontic treatments.
  • Impacting: Impacted wisdom teeth occur when these molars don’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally. They may grow in sideways, emerge only partially, or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can be very painful.
  • Infections and cysts: Partially emerged wisdom teeth create a gateway for bacteria to enter the gums and cause infection. The areas around impacted teeth are difficult to clean, increasing the risk of decay. In some cases, cysts or tumors can form around the impacted tooth, damaging the jawbone and nerves.
  • Gum disease: Wisdom teeth that don’t fully emerge also increase the risk of periodontal disease. This can lead to swelling, pain, and jawbone loss in the affected area.

When is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary?

The decision to remove your wisdom teeth is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Assess the following factors with your dentist’s help:

  • Individual dental anatomy: Taller people often have enough space in their mouth for wisdom teeth to come in without causing problems. Regular dental checkups are vital to monitor the growth and impact of these teeth.
  • Symptoms and risks: Dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth that cause pain, recurrent infections, or damage to neighboring teeth.
  • Preventative care: In some cases, dentists may suggest removing wisdom teeth as a preventative measure, especially if X-rays indicate that issues may develop in the future.

The Role of Oral Surgeons

The dentist you visit for routine cleanings and X-rays may be the one who recommends wisdom teeth removal, but an oral surgeon will perform the procedure. These experts specialize in tooth extractions, including wisdom teeth. Here are the roles oral surgeons play in the wisdom teeth removal process:

  • Surgical expertise: Oral surgeons receive extensive education and training on the topics of surgery and anesthesia, allowing them to handle complex extractions and provide various sedation options.
  • Managing complications: Experienced oral surgeons are equipped to deal with complications that might arise during wisdom teeth removal, such as excessive bleeding, infections, or nerve damage.
  • Aftercare and recovery: Post-surgical care is crucial for a smooth recovery. Oral surgeons provide detailed aftercare instructions to minimize discomfort and promote healing.

Why Choose Austin Oral Surgery?

Choosing the right oral surgery team is crucial to ensure the best outcome from your wisdom teeth extraction. Austin Oral Surgery stands out for our 50+ years of experience. Our board-certified oral surgeons provide superior, individualized care in a safe, compassionate environment. If you’re dealing with wisdom tooth pain or wondering whether you should have your wisdom teeth extracted, please contact us today. We would be happy to schedule a consultation with you in Austin, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Lakeway, or any of our other 12 Central Texas locations. Rest assured that your dental health is in good hands with Austin Oral Surgery.