Have you ever wondered how wisdom teeth got their name? The answer is simple, if not silly. Because this third set of molars waits until your late teens or early 20s to emerge through your gums, they appear when you’re older and wiser than when your other teeth came in.
That theory may hold true, as you’re doing the wise thing by researching whether you need to remove those teeth. You’ve undoubtedly heard tales of wisdom teeth causing problems and the inevitable trip to the dentist for surgical removal. But not everyone needs this procedure; if you do, it’s a straightforward, quick, and fairly painless treatment.
Our team of experienced dental experts at OK Tooth helps New Yorkers deal with their wisdom teeth whatever their needs. Sometimes that means watching and waiting to see how the teeth grow; other times, it means extraction.
Here’s a handy guide to help you understand your wisdom teeth and recognize the signs that we may need to remove them.
Who can keep their wisdom teeth?
When that last set of molars shows up, you may be one of the lucky ones whose wisdom teeth grow in straight and without any problems. At OK Tooth, we love to see your third molars:
- Erupt through your gums completely
- Align correctly with your other teeth
- Keep your bite intact
- Allow for thorough daily hygiene
As long as your wisdom teeth meet these criteria, we don’t remove them. There’s no reason to extract healthy teeth that don’t cause any issues.
Who needs wisdom tooth extractions?
Unfortunately, many wisdom teeth deviate from the ideal situation described above. Here are some situations that call for extraction.
Angled wisdom teeth
Some third molars grow sideways, with the crown facing the front of your mouth at an angle. Some even come in horizontally. Angled wisdom teeth must be removed.
Partially erupted wisdom teeth
When you got your first baby teeth, they emerged through your gums, as did your adult teeth — you can see, use, and clean the entire tooth. However, some wisdom teeth poke their crowns out but don’t fully emerge from your gums. This little tooth nub is difficult to clean and opens the door for bacteria to seep under your gums.
Hidden wisdom teeth
When wisdom teeth come in but never break through your gums, we call them impacted wisdom teeth. They become trapped in your jaw and gum tissue, creating the perfect environment for developing cysts and infections in the tooth root, jawbone, and soft tissues.
Wisdom teeth crowding
Depending on the size and shape of your jaw and the position of your existing teeth, the appearance of wisdom might be unwelcome. Wisdom teeth could “muscle” their way into your mouth and shift things out of alignment. In this case, they need to go.
Signs you may need your wisdom teeth removed
We can tell a lot about your wisdom teeth even before they poke through your gums. X-rays show us how close they are to the surface, the angle of growth, and whether they’re healthy or decaying.
However, other signs exist to let us know when to extract your wisdom teeth, such as:
- Frequent soft-tissue infections
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Damage to neighboring teeth
Deciding to remove wisdom teeth requires a professional evaluation and a personal choice. With so many variables involved, we take each case individually and always opt for conservative treatments first.
If it turns out you’d be better off without your wisdom teeth, relax. Our OK Tooth team specializes in this routine procedure. You won’t feel a thing, and you’ll be in and out of the office in about an hour. Of course, if you need multiple wisdom teeth removed, it will take a bit longer.
You may feel some discomfort for a few days following the extraction, but over-the-counter pain relievers usually take care of it.
After that, you can return to your regular routine without worrying about crowding teeth, pain, and infection. To schedule an appointment at OK Tooth in Midtown Manhattan, New York, to discuss your wisdom teeth, call or click today.