Little Elm TX dentist answers: “When is wisdom tooth extraction necessary?”
You’ll often hear dentists talk about extractions as a “last resort.” As good as dentistry has become at replicating natural teeth, there is no better-looking, -functioning, and -feeling tooth than the one that developed naturally with you. But, in some cases, pulling a tooth may be the only way to restore your health, wellbeing, and attractive smile. As it relates to Little Elm Wisdom Tooth Extraction, the Frisco Elm Dental team wants you to know the loss of these back teeth is really no loss at all. As “vestigial organs” (like your spleen or appendix) they serve no real purpose. Wisdom teeth are not needed for optimal chewing or other functions. Like other vestigial organs, while they have no benefit they unfortunately can cause serious health problems.
When it’s wise to pull
As we humans evolved, the size of our brains expanded. Consequently, jaws narrowed to accommodate the much bigger brain case and to allow for the upper and lower jaw to connect to the skull. The result of this evolutionary change was a mismatch; the smaller jaws simply weren’t big enough for those back teeth to develop properly. By “develop properly,” Dr. Suri and her team are referring to how the teeth break through the gums. You may have no problem with other teeth erupting through your gums. However, if you have a very small bone structure, you’re at far greater risk of the tooth getting stuck under gum tissue because it has no place to go. When a tooth is unable to break through the gums and remains either fully or partially stuck, it’s said to be “impacted.” Wisdom teeth can also become impacted should they:
- Grow angled toward the neighboring tooth or second molar
- Develop angled toward the back of the mouth
- Grow at a right angle, so the tooth appears to lay flat or parallel to the jawbone
Even when the tooth grows straight up and down like the other teeth before it, impaction can still arise. Usually, patients know when they have a problem. Gums tend to be much redder than usual. They may look puffy, a sign of swelling. Sometimes, Dr. Suri’s patients may complain about a nasty taste in their mouths or persistent halitosis. Far and away, the most commonly referenced symptom of an impacted wisdom tooth is pain. Your mouth may ache as teeth try to push up from underlying bone and gum tissue, and this pain may radiate through your jaw and face. As the trapped teeth try to erupt at an angle, they may damage neighboring teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth can produce other complications, including injury to the nerves and jaw, and these crowded teeth promote the bacteria responsible for decay and gum disease.
Proactive care to the rescue
As unpleasant as all that may sound, there is a pleasant way to avoid all those potential symptoms and complications. We know these teeth generally start to develop between the ages of around 17 to 25 as most teens and young adults gain more “wisdom.” During routine exams and cleanings, Dr. Suri and her team at Frisco Elm Dental will be vigilant in detecting possible problems with how your teeth are erupting. They use some of the most advanced diagnostics available to produce clear, accurate images and information about your mouth. This early, accurate detection allows for teeth to be proactively treated before they become impacted and produce a cascade of other oral and overall health issues.
Advancements in surgical techniques, as well as sedation and pain management, result in a procedure that is very well-tolerated especially when teeth are extracted before they cause symptoms. Being vigilant, however, isn’t the same as immediately jumping to extract! Some people never have problems with these last molars. Still other patients don’t even develop third molars, or maybe only one or two wisdom teeth erupt. Since every patient is so different, it’s important to maintain regular dental appointments as recommended by Dr. Suri. These appointments include a thorough visual exam and diagnostics such as Frisco Elm Dental’s safe and comfortable digital X-rays. Problems are spotted and addressed early, so you never experience why wisdom teeth have a reputation. And, while extraction is a common and straightforward procedure, you must still follow the instructions provided by your dentist; notably, you’ll want to take care to avoid disturbing the extraction site. A clot that becomes dislodged can interfere with healthy and speedy healing.
Call (214) 705-7100 to schedule your first or next appointment at Frisco Elm Dental.