When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

Spring break is a time when many teenagers and college students undergo the procedure of removing their wisdom teeth.  Parents choose school holidays so their students won’t have to take time away from their studies to have the surgery and recover.  So how do you know when the time is right to have your wisdom teeth removed?  We will attempt to answer that question in this week’s blog.

Why Do We Remove Wisdom Teeth?

Most people do not have jaws that are big enough to contain space for another set of molars to come into the mouth.  Often, the wisdom teeth have the wrong angle, so that instead of coming into a natural position, they are tilted and press against the teeth in front of them.  This can cause damage to the adjacent teeth.

Even those people who do have jaws that are large enough, may not be able to maintain great plaque control around them because of their position at the back of the mouth.  These teeth have a much higher risk for cavities and gum disease than the teeth in front of them.

How Does the Dentist Diagnose the Need for Extraction?

The simplest way for your dentist to determine the state of your wisdom teeth, and the potential need for extraction, is by taking an x-ray called a panoramic or a three-dimensional scan of the upper and lower jaws called a CBCT.  The three-dimensional image will provide more information than the panoramic x-ray, but both enable the dentist to determine the need for wisdom teeth extraction.

Your dentist is looking for the location of the wisdom teeth, their angulation, any potential for damage to the nearby teeth, and any interaction with large nerves or vessels in the jaws.  He also is assessing the size of your jaws to determine whether these teeth could eventually function fully.

When Should We Remove Them?

Your dentist will answer the question of whether you should remove them.  The answer to the question of when is your decision.  Once you make the decision to remove them, the sooner the better.  This is especially important in younger people, in which the teeth may not have fully developed.  In the late teens, the wisdom teeth are typically present as small tooth buds, which are smaller than the fully developed tooth, and simpler to extract.  They lead to a smaller extraction site and quicker healing.  Young people are also just faster healers than older adults are.

We do recommend that you choose a time when you (or the patient if it is a loved one) will have several days to recuperate at home.  Many people are fine with taking a day off on a Friday for the surgery, recuperating on Saturday and Sunday, and then returning to work on Monday.  For some, a longer recovery period is necessary.

For this reason, with students, we recommend choosing a school holiday like Christmas, Spring Break, or the summer recess to schedule this type of surgery.

More Questions about Wisdom Teeth?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can take a three-dimensional scan of your jaws to get a detailed assessment of your wisdom teeth.  Then he will discuss your potential risks and treatment options with you, so that you can make an educated decision.

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