The wisdom teeth are the third molars – the last of the permanent teeth in your mouth, and the last to erupt. They usually make their presence known from ages 15 to 25 – and not always in a good way. Many people have their wisdom teeth removed, and even if yours don’t seem to bother you, they could be causing some significant problems that you can’t see.
When Should the Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
While wisdom teeth removal is common, it isn’t a necessity. There are several reasons why your dentist might recommend surgical extraction:
- Alignment. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, they could cause alignment issues with the rest of your teeth.
- Adjacent teeth damage. The third set of molars could cause the rest of your teeth to shift, which might lead to problems with pain and your bite.
- Cavities. The swollen gums associated with your wisdom teeth could result in pockets between the teeth. This is a haven for bacteria to live in and breed, leading to cavities.
- Jaw and sinus issues. Your wisdom teeth may form cysts, which can result in nerve damage and a hollow jaw. Likewise, you may experience chronic sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.
What Happens During the Procedure?
If you need to have your wisdom teeth extracted, you’ll be scheduled for surgery. In most cases you will be sedated so that the wisdom teeth can be removed safely and without pain. You’ll be asleep throughout the entire procedure.
After your surgery, a responsible party is required to drive you home. You may experience some mild swelling and discomfort for a few days, and it might take a several weeks before your mouth heals completely. During this time, it is especially important to listen to your dentist’s instructions, as this will lead to the fastest possible recovery.