Some patients think that they don’t need to have their wisdom teeth removed if they’re not experiencing any problematic symptoms like discomfort or bleeding. Understandably, it can be difficult for a patient to consider a surgical procedure for an issue that is not yet outwardly bothersome (even though insidious issues are developing). A similar analogy would be not to treat hypertension because no outward symptoms of headaches, renal disease, stroke or cardiac consequences haven’t shown themselves yet.
Nonetheless, an impacted wisdom tooth has the real potential to cause significant problems for patients. Impacted wisdom teeth are more susceptible to abscesses, and they can develop tumors or cysts as well. These large third molars will continue to try to push through the gums even if there’s not enough room in the jaw for them. That can lead to discomfort, and it creates the potential to knock the surrounding teeth out of alignment. They will lead to cavities and eventual loss of neighboring teeth due to resorption from pressure or decay.
In the vast majority of patients, the wisdom teeth will become impacted because the modern human jaw is too small to accommodate them. To avoid such outcomes, many patients will choose to pursue wisdom tooth extraction before they become symptomatic.
It is preferable to have an oral surgeon remove your wisdom teeth before you reach age 25. The wisdom teeth can be removed more easily in younger patients, who also recover more quickly following the procedure.
Although older patients have their wisdom teeth removed safely, they do face a greater statistical risk of complications overall. This can be another motivating factor to schedule a wisdom tooth extraction even if the wisdom teeth are not causing problems for you right at this moment.
The oral surgeon will thoroughly evaluate your case prior to performing the extraction to determine whether your wisdom teeth should be extracted and whether you are healthy enough to tolerate the procedure. If there are any concerns about risks associated with surgery, the oral surgeon will discuss them with you in advance.
Ultimately, it is the patient’s choice whether to have the wisdom teeth extracted when no symptoms are present, however all the literature suggests to remove them prophylactically. When making that decision, discuss the pros and cons of the treatment with our dual degree oral surgeon, who is both a physician and dental surgeon so that you can make an informed choice.
For more information on wisdom tooth extraction, contact the office of Steven Koos DDS, MD, to reserve your appointment today.