Many people in their late teens and early twenties have their wisdom teeth pulled, but not everyone needs to do so. While dental professionals often have differing opinions about wisdom teeth extraction, if you think you need your wisdom teeth pulled, your best bet is to consult with a professional.
Good Reasons for Having Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled
While oral surgery may sound scary, having your wisdom teeth pulled can often be a better experience than not doing so when you consider the pain associated with wisdom teeth problems.
However, many people have no problems when their wisdom teeth erupt and don’t need to have their wisdom teeth pulled. Even so, many dental professionals will recommend having your wisdom teeth pulled if you experience the following scenarios:
- Your wisdom teeth don’t fit in your mouth. Most of us have room for about 28 teeth, which is the number of teeth you have before your wisdom teeth erupt. When you add your four wisdom teeth, you have 32 teeth all trying to fit into the confined amount of space available in your jaw. When the jaw isn’t large enough, the wisdom teeth can become impacted, which means they are either unable to fully erupt or they become misaligned. (1) In this case, having your wisdom teeth pulled will ensure all your teeth have ample room.
- You experience chronic pain in your gums near your wisdom teeth. This pain can be a sign of infection that can occur from partially erupted wisdom teeth. When food and bacteria get trapped in these areas, it can lead to a very painful infection known as pericoronitis. (2) Having your wisdom teeth pulled in this case will prevent further infection.
- Your wisdom teeth don’t come in straight. If your wisdom teeth come in fully, but come in sideways, they can cause your teeth to shift and move over time. There is also a chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth can damage the nearby teeth. (1) Once you have your wisdom teeth pulled, your nearby teeth will be protected from damage.
- A cyst forms around the wisdom tooth. This occurs when the sac next to the tooth becomes filled with fluid. When this occurs, it can destroy the surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots. In rare cases, an untreated cyst can lead to a tumor that may require a more serious surgical procedure. (3)
What to Expect When Having Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled
If you do make the decision to have your wisdom teeth pulled, you’ll want to know what to expect during your procedure. Talk with your dental professional or oral surgeon to be sure you understand the procedure and after-surgery care recommendations. Here are some questions you may want to ask before the big day:
- How many teeth will be removed? Some professionals will take out all four teeth, or just a few at a time.
- What type of anesthesia will be used? Typically, you will undergo either local or general anesthesia to avoid discomfort during the procedure. If you undergo general anesthesia, you will need to have someone accompany you since you will be groggy and unable to drive yourself home.
- How long will the procedure take? This will likely depend on the number of wisdom teeth pulled and the condition of your teeth, but can range from an hour to several hours.
- Are there any pre-surgical instructions? Your dental professional may tell you to avoid certain medications such as blood thinners or aspirin prior to the procedure.
This list is certainly not comprehensive, so it’s important to talk at length with your dental professional prior to the procedure. Having this important discussion can help alleviate any anxiety you may have and can also help avoid potential complications.