The last teeth you get are often called your third molars because they emerge after the first two sets — a long time after. Most people notice their appearance between the ages of 17 and 25. Because you’re older and presumably more mature when they make their entrance, these molars have earned the nickname “wisdom teeth.”
These powerful chompers served a purpose when humans gnawed on tough nuts and meats, but they became obsolete long ago. So, why do you still have them, and do you still need them?
We’re glad you asked.
Our experienced dental specialists at OK Tooth in Midtown Manhattan, New York, understand why you might be confused about whether you need wisdom teeth extraction, so we’re here to dispel the myths and give you a straight answer.
Do all wisdom teeth need to be pulled?
No. That’s the short answer.
The long answer is that removing them depends on several factors, including whether your wisdom teeth break through your gums or stay stuck in the tissue and whether you have pain or not.
After we examine your teeth, talk to you about your symptoms (if any), and take X-rays, we can let you know if you can keep your third molars or if your mouth would be better off without them.
When to consider wisdom tooth extraction
We typically only remove wisdom teeth when they cause problems or are likely to do so in the future.
For example, when wisdom teeth are impacted or partially emerged, they’re difficult to clean and more prone to tooth decay and gum infections. Over time, your impacted wisdom teeth can:
- Damage neighboring healthy teeth
- Damage nearby nerves
- Affect your sinus cavities
- Lead to gum disease
- Facilitate cavities
- Cause infection
- Lead to cysts or tumors
Thanks to modern imaging technology, we can also determine if your wisdom teeth pose likely problems down the road. That’s why, in some cases, we may recommend wisdom teeth removal as a preventive measure.
What to expect during wisdom teeth removal
Don’t panic if you learn that your wisdom teeth need to come out. We keep you awake but relaxed and sedated during the procedure and blissfully numb, so you’ll feel no pain. Expect to stay in our chair for up to an hour, depending on how many wisdom teeth we plan to pull and whether they’ve erupted or are impacted.
Recovery after wisdom teeth removal can take up to a week or more, again, depending on the number of teeth removed and the complexity of the procedure.
During your recovery, it's important to follow our post-procedure instructions and avoid certain activities, such as smoking, drinking from a straw, or consuming alcohol. Expect to have some swelling, pain, and bleeding during the first few days, which you can easily manage with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medications.
Many people live symptom-free with their wisdom teeth; others experience pain and a cascade of related issues. To find out whether your wisdom teeth need to go, schedule an appointment at OK Tooth by calling our friendly staff or booking online.