Having the third molars—“wisdom teeth”—removed is so common and necessary that it has almost become one of the rites of passage along the road to adulthood. For many patients, the decision to visit an oral surgeon to have the wisdom teeth removed is prompted when those teeth cause pain or become infected.
The main issue with the wisdom teeth is that most people don’t have enough room in their dental arch or jaws for those teeth to erupt properly. As a result, they often become impacted, or stuck in the bone or gum tissue.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a host of problems, such as abscesses, tumors and infections. The wisdom teeth can also knock the other teeth out of alignment as they continue to try to push through the gums.
Dr. Steven Koos, your downtown Chicago oral and maxillofacial surgeon, removes impacted wisdom teeth as a protective measure against those issues.
However, not all patients experience problems with the wisdom teeth. People who have qualms about oral surgery may question the need to extract teeth when they aren’t causing any symptoms. But hypertension (high blood pressure) doesn’t usually cause symptoms either, until end organ damage occurs. Should high blood pressure not be treated either until it is symptomatic? So that line of thinking isn’t the best line of thinking.
For most patients, wisdom tooth extraction is recommended and necessary. It’s impossible to predict when problems will occur, and it’s best to have the third molars removed before they can do any damage. Furthermore, the procedure is routine and remarkably safe, if skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform the surgery.
It is the exception, when the wisdom teeth are expected to emerge fully and in the proper alignment, and it is only in these instances where patients may not need to have them removed.
Our oral surgeons use sophisticated, state-of-the-art, 3D digital CT radiographs to help determine if you have enough room in your jaw for the wisdom teeth to erupt. Having this knowledge can help you make a better-informed decision.
Ideally, patients should have their wisdom teeth removed before age 23. But this can vary from person to person based on wisdom tooth maturity. After that point, the roots of the wisdom teeth are more solidified and longer, which makes the extraction procedure more difficult. Older patients also take longer to heal from the surgery.
Nonetheless, patients who put off the procedure can still have the third molars safely extracted at a later age.
When making this decision, patients weigh a number of factors. If you are considering whether to have your wisdom teeth removed, contact ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio, serving Cook County Chicago, to learn more about this valuable procedure.