Everyone will develop wisdom teeth at some point in their lives. These teeth derive their name from the fact that they emerge during early adulthood, a stage typically associated with increased wisdom. However, they can emerge anywhere between the mid-teens and early 30s. Contrary to popular belief, these are not vestigial teeth. Looking back, it’s obvious that the older generations had no need for wisdom teeth removal. Because of poor diets and many other factors, most people today have underdeveloped jaws that make it impossible for the third molars to grow in correctly. Here are some of the reasons why removal is important in these cases.
When wisdom teeth fail to grow into their proper positions, they may press against other teeth. This condition is called an impaction and it carries numerous risks. The most common effect of an impaction is pain, which may range from mild to excruciating. It may also make eating uncomfortable due to the additional pressure caused by chewing, as well as food coming into contact with and irritating the affected area.
This is a disorder in which the teeth don’t fit together properly. It can cause difficulty eating which, in serious cases, can result in unhealthy weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Furthermore, malocclusion can be responsible for other issues like chipped or broken teeth, jaw pain and chronic tongue biting. For teens and young adults who are still growing, it may also contribute to malformation of the jaw and teeth.
Like most things, a little prevention is worth a pound of remedy. While having your third molars extracted may seem costly, it’s cheaper than paying for the health consequences down the road. Furthermore, this is a simple procedure that many insurance companies cover.
Not all wisdom teeth cause problems, even if they emerge in the proper positions. However, for many people, these molars end up causing discomfort to one degree or another. They also frequently become an issue where brushing is concerned as they can be very hard to reach. This means that bits of food and plaque often remain underneath the gum line, causing halitosis, tooth decay and gingivitis.
The most serious reason to have wisdom teeth removed is their propensity to become infected, especially when they’re impacted or don’t fully emerge. When food becomes trapped in the gums surrounding the wisdom teeth, bacteria can build up and cause an infection. This may be mild at first, but can rapidly progress into something life-threatening. Pain and swelling in the gum surrounding the affected tooth is the first warning sign. If left untreated, this eventually causes pain and swelling in the jaw, neck or side of the face that can signal the presence of an abscess. This is a medical emergency and must be taken care of immediately. An abscess in the head is particular cause for alarm due to its proximity to the brain.
Sooner is Better
Even if your wisdom teeth aren’t causing any problems now, that doesn’t mean they won’t later. It can take years for them to emerge fully, and in that time, they have the opportunity to do significant damage to your teeth and your general health.