Most people begin to notice an extra set of molars growing in around the age of 17, and this may cause discomfort before, during, or after they emerge through the gums. These teeth are called “wisdom teeth” and usually are extracted by a dentist such as Dr. Chris Reger in San Antonio. Some people may not want to spend the time and money to get them removed, but is this safe?
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are an extra set of molars that grow in at the very back of your gums. They usually pop out through your gums between the ages of 17 to 25. The name “wisdom teeth” came about because they grow in at a more mature age than the rest of your teeth.
While they’re often known to be extra, unnecessary teeth in modern times, they once had a purpose. Back before our ancestors had forks, knives, or other modern technologies, they used solely their teeth to eat all of their food.
Since they didn’t have ways to make their meat tender or fancy devices to crack nuts, they had to rely on their strong back teeth. Having an extra set of molars made it easier for them to cut through tough foods.
Why Should You Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Although they weren’t always removed in earlier times, today most people have their wisdom teeth extracted in their late teens or early 20s. While some people have them removed before they’ve completely emerged, others wait until their teeth are fully grown in..
People typically have their wisdom teeth removed for the following reasons:
- Pain or discomfort — impacted teeth can cause people to feel pressure in their mouth, and when they’re fully grown in, wisdom teeth can cause throbbing pain.
- Overcrowding — if patients have smaller mouths, there might not be room for their wisdom teeth to grow in properly.
- Preventing tooth decay — Since this third set of molars is so far back in your mouth, they can be hard to fully keep clean, allowing them to become decayed.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s crucial that you contact a dentist such as Dr. Terrance Wolbaum in Aurora, CO to have them evaluated. If wisdom teeth are becoming a problem, they can cause issues to arise with your other teeth as well.
Not Removing Your Teeth Can Contribute to Sleep Disorders
Stress, medical conditions, and mental health issues are all factors that can make patients more susceptible to sleep disorders. For example, when a person is stressed or has crooked or crowded teeth, it can lead to teeth grinding, a condition which is known as bruxism.
A number of scientific studies link bruxism to a serious sleep condition called sleep apnea. This sleep disorder is caused by a disruption in the airway that makes the patient’s blood oxygen level fall to dangerous levels.
Since wisdom teeth can crowd the mouth and damage your other teeth, Dr. Michael Reece in Bryan TX may recommend having them removed. This will also help prevent issues such as sleep apnea from occurring in the future.
Can I Keep My Wisdom Teeth?
In some cases, people try to keep their wisdom teeth as long as possible or avoid getting them removed altogether. There are even some people who never develop wisdom teeth. Patients who do decide to keep their third molars often have a dental phobia or they don’t want to spend the money to have them extracted.
Our ancestors lived with wisdom teeth for many years, so some people can get away with keeping their wisdom teeth. Since having your wisdom teeth extracted is a normal process and usually recommended, you should talk to your dentist before making your decision.
As long as you have room for the extra teeth and they aren’t causing oral problems, you could be able to keep them without incurring future difficulties. Patients who have wisdom teeth need to take particularly good care of their teeth and visit their dentist regularly to ensure they’re not developing tooth decay.
How Wisdom Teeth Are Removed
When you decide you’re ready to have your wisdom teeth removed, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon. You’ll visit them for a consultation and to discuss financing options. Wisdom teeth removal is a complex procedure, so it’s essential that you check with your insurance provider to see how much of it they’ll cover.
Wisdom teeth surgery typically takes about 45 minutes to complete, but additional time will be needed for preparation. The procedure is an in-depth process, so you’ll be given some form sort of sedation to make you feel extremely drowsy or fall asleep.
If your wisdom teeth haven’t grown in yet, your doctor will have to cut into the gums to remove them. When they’re fully grown in, incisions may not be needed and they can simply extract the teeth.
Making the Right Decision About Your Oral Health
While it has become a routine procedure to have your wisdom teeth removed, it’s not a mandatory procedure. There are multiple factors to consider when deciding to keep your wisdom teeth or not, and it’s crucial that you talk to your dentist once you start noticing issues with them.