It may seem like a coming-of-age milestone to have your wisdom teeth removed, but you may wonder: Do wisdom teeth always have to be removed? The answer is no. However, while wisdom teeth don’t always have to come out, there are many reasons your dentist could recommend it.
Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of Kevin Miller, DDS, and our team here at Dentistry in Paradise in Santa Barbara, California.
You might need wisdom teeth extraction if …
When they cause problems, they hurt, or if there’s a good chance they’ll cause problems in the future, you may need to have one (or all) of your wisdom teeth removed. Your dentist makes these decisions after carefully reviewing your X-rays, examining your mouth, and reviewing any symptoms you have.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the red flags that it’s time to schedule wisdom teeth extraction.
You have pain in the back of your mouth
There are many reasons why you may develop a toothache. Tooth decay, oral infections, and even cracked or chipped teeth can all cause pain. However, if your pain is located in the back of your mouth, it could hint at an issue with your wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth can cause pain that comes and goes, but it can grow more persistent as time passes. You may find it more difficult to chew, speak, or open your mouth, and if the shifting teeth press on your nerves, you may experience sharp, shooting pain.
You may also experience tender, swollen gums as the teeth attempt to erupt through your gums.
Your wisdom teeth are impacted or partially impacted
Like any erupting tooth, wisdom teeth that burst through your gums can be uncomfortable, but trapped wisdom teeth can cause even more pain.
When your wisdom teeth are trapped and don’t erupt through your gums, they’re referred to as impacted. While this might not seem like a major problem at first, impacted teeth are notorious for causing pain and even cysts.
If your wisdom teeth emerge only part-way through your gums, they’re referred to as partially impacted. These teeth have a high risk of becoming infected, especially if bacteria and food debris gets trapped under your wisdom tooth or in surrounding gums.
You might suspect your partially impacted tooth is infected if you have bad breath (unrelated to food), jaw tenderness, swelling, and a bad taste in your mouth. Severe infections can cause fevers and fatigue as well.
Your molars are crowded
If your wisdom teeth emerge but you don’t have enough room for them, your molars may become crowded. Crowding anywhere in your mouth can make it more challenging to floss, but crowding in the back of your mouth makes flossing extremely difficult. This can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay between your second and third molars.
Not only does crowding increase your risk of cavities, but it can also force your other teeth to shift out of place. Without enough space for your wisdom teeth, you may start to notice crookedness and bite issues due to misalignment.
You might not need wisdom teeth removal if …
Despite all of the situations that warrant wisdom tooth removal, there are times in which you may not need to have them removed. This includes when:
- Your teeth have already erupted fully without causing crowding
- You don’t have any issues, such as pain or swelling
You don’t need to wait to schedule your wisdom teeth removal until you notice problems. If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, schedule a visit with Dr. Miller at Dentistry in Paradise. Give us a call at 805-967-0272 or request a consultation appointment online.