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Is Wisdom tooth removal necessary?

Many people do not even notice when their wisdom tooth is coming out. It erupts normally as other permanent teeth. Wisdom teeth are the third molars and are usually seen at the back of the mouth and almost the last to erupt. As they erupt quite late in the developmental stage of a person, they are called wisdom teeth.

The thought generally accepted is the wisdom teeth will cause problems and hence it is better to remove them. But that is not always the case. Dentists are the best judge of this. They will assess the oral health and condition before deciding whether wisdom teeth need to be removed or not.

When is removal of wisdom teeth recommended?

Wisdom tooth removal may usually be recommended under the following scenarios:

Gum problems
If there are inflammation and infection in the gum lining, then the health of the teeth will be affected. Bacterial action causes swelling and redness in the gum tissues. When the health of the gum lining is affected, it can also affect the health of the teeth. The gums are not able to provide the necessary support to the wisdom teeth and oral health can get compromised. To avoid this situation, dentists recommend removing the wisdom teeth and restoring the health of the gum tissues.

Damage to neighbouring teeth
Wisdom teeth, when they erupt, can push the other molars and cause problems on their positioning and with the bite. This can exert pressure on the teeth in the mouth and cause pain. It becomes difficult to speak and consume food in some cases. If the wisdom tooth has not erupted properly then food debris can collect near the root of the teeth. This can attract bacterial action and tooth decay. If there is decay in the wisdom teeth, there are high chances of this spreading to neighbouring teeth and damaging them as well.

Chewing and jaw problems
Wisdom teeth can push other molars and exert pressure, this can result in problems in chewing as they are pushed out of their desired position. Teeth can also scrape against the cheek and cause minor injuries there. Accidentally biting your cheek while consuming food, infections in the soft tissues of the mouth also can result. Jaws would have to take in extra pressure due to the positioning of the teeth. Cysts are observed formed near the new wisdom teeth. This can directly affect the health of the jaws and weaken them. The movement of the jaws can be quite painful due to this condition.

Impacted teeth
Some wisdom teeth erupt without any problem, where as some are not able to erupt smoothly. They are stuck below the surface of the gums (impacted) and cause problems to the gums and neighbouring teeth. It can be impacted partially or completely depending on if it has erupted or not. Some impacted teeth do not cause any problem at all to oral health. Whereas some will cause immense pain due to the pressure they exert on account of their position. Impacted teeth cause problems like gum diseases, cysts, tooth decay etc. If the problems are severe then dentists usually suggest the removal of wisdom teeth.

Tooth cavities
Infections near the gum lining of the teeth, due to the wisdom teeth being impacted can cause swelling. This can pull the gum lining away from the root of the teeth. This can promote bacterial action; food debris can get collected in the space and if unchecked can lead to cavities. Cavities destroy the teeth and bring down oral health. The unchecked bacterial action can spread to other neighbouring teeth as well. Oral health can be damaged and bring about more complicated dental problems. If cavities are formed and there is severe damage to the wisdom teeth, then usually they are removed.

Wisdom teeth erupt long after the other permanent teeth are in position. The space in the mouth is occupied by other teeth and the wisdom teeth sometimes do not get enough space. This can lead to overcrowding of teeth in the mouth. Teeth are pushed and pressured against each other. Overcrowding of teeth can result in the uneven positing of the teeth in the mouth. This can lead to food particles getting locked in between the space in the mouth. This invites bacterial action and when unchecked can lead to cavities and tooth decay. If there are ‘too many teeth’ in the mouth, then teeth are removed to make space.

Deciding whether wisdom tooth extraction is required

The wisdom tooth is not extracted if it erupts smoothly, there is no damage or pressure exerted to the neighbouring teeth and if there are no other dental concerns. If the teeth are impacted, then dental surgery is required to remove the teeth. This is conducted under anaesthesia; this requires cutting open the jawbone to remove the impacted teeth. If it’s an issue of dental cavities, then depending upon the extent of damage, the treatment is planned. After the required procedure, dentists will prescribe medicine to help with the pain and to stop further infection. Guidance must be taken from the dentist on the aftercare procedures to be followed.

Dental consultations must be done at least twice a year, with a gap of six months is usually recommended. This helps to diagnose oral health and what measures need to be taken to improve it. Ignoring the pain and other dental discomfort and not seeking expert dental help can sometimes make the dental issue progress faster. Making oral health a priority and making oral hygiene a top priority will help to maintain oral health. Brushing and flossing twice a day will help to keep away most of the common dental problems at bay.

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