Getting your wisdom teeth pulled is a teenage rite of passage, but is it really necessary? Do all wisdom teeth need removal? You would think the answer to the question, “Should I pull my wisdom teeth?” would be a simple one, but in reality, it’s quite complex. The oral surgeons at Hill Country Oral Surgery in Austin, TX help us dig into this heated debate below.
Why Would You Pull a Perfectly Good Tooth?
All your life you’ve been cautioned to take care of your teeth. Brush, floss, rinse, repeat. Morning and night, you’ve taken care of your pearly whites. And suddenly, we’re talking about taking teeth out. Wait a minute, why would you pull a tooth that isn’t having problems? Don’t you need all your teeth?
Wisdom teeth are a little different; essentially, wisdom teeth are the final four teeth to erupt in the mouth. And like your roommate’s BFF that crashes at your apartment and never pays rent, there often isn’t enough room for these late-comers. When there isn’t enough space, the wisdom teeth may be difficult to clean, or in some cases, may not fully erupt into jaw. These impacted, or stuck, teeth can be a source of cysts and benign tumors in the jaw. And who wants that? If you can’t fully clean the teeth, decay can develop, causing gum disease and damage to neighboring teeth. Your wisdom teeth might not be a problem now, but give it time. Many people develop problems with their wisdom teeth later in life. Think of them as a ticking time bomb in your mouth.
Wisdom tooth removal isn’t always necessary. If you have enough room for the teeth to fully come in and you can get them clean, you can probably keep them. Don’t get too excited though. Most people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed.
Can’t I Wait Until I Have a Problem with My Wisdom Teeth?
If your wisdom teeth aren’t causing a problem yet, do they really need to come out now? Many oral surgeons advocate preventative removal of wisdom teeth for one simple reason: it’s often easier in the teens and early twenties. When wisdom teeth are first coming in, the roots are less developed. The older you get, the more established the roots become and the more difficult tooth removal becomes. Younger patients heal more easily and quickly. Early removal can reduce complications and lead to faster recovery after surgery. It also keeps dental problems from developing due to wisdom teeth that just don’t fit. Why delay the inevitable?
What’s the Best Age for Wisdom Tooth Removal?
So, you need to have your wisdom teeth removed. When should you have it done? At Hill Country Oral Surgery, we typically recommend that patients remove their wisdom teeth sometime between the ages of 15-20. You may need to remove them sooner or later. Visit an oral surgeon for an exam and X-rays to find out if you’re ready to get your wisdom teeth removed.
I’m Terrified of Wisdom Tooth Removal Surgery
Surgery is scary, right? Many people put off their first visit to an oral surgeon because they are nervous about getting their wisdom teeth removed. If you need to get them out, go see an oral surgeon to explore your options. A consultation isn’t anything to worry about. You’ll open wide and we’ll take a quick peek at your teeth. Typically, wisdom tooth consultations also include X-rays to give us a better idea about what’s going on underneath the gums. You don’t have to worry about shots, pain, or incisions during a consultation. It is simply an opportunity to look at your mouth and figure out a plan for the future.
After an exam, your surgeon will be able to give you a better idea of the next steps. Maybe you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief because your wisdom teeth can stay. If not, your oral surgeon can discuss surgery and the many options available to make the procedure less intimidating. Remember, your surgeon is on your team and wants you to have a pleasant experience, even though surgery isn’t fun.
Oral surgeons have a variety of tricks up their sleeve to make wisdom tooth removal a more comfortable process. Oral, IV, or nitrous oxide sedation may be recommended to help you feel more relaxed and less nervous about the surgery. There are many pain relief options available during and after surgery, including non-narcotic pain relief. Don’t stick your head in the sand and forget about your wisdom teeth. Get information and make an informed decision. With a skilled oral surgeon, wisdom tooth surgery is quick and relatively easy.
To pull or not to pull? It really depends of what you’ve got going on in your mouth. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones that gets to keep your wisdom teeth. And if not, stock up on the ice cream and enjoy a television binge for a day or two while you recover. We hear Stranger Things Season 2 just came out on Netflix.