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WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTION

Wisdom tooth extraction may be indicated if it is impacted or causing crowding, tooth decay, or pain.  Wisdom tooth removal may also be required if there is sustained gum infection and swelling.  So how can you tell if your wisdom teeth needs to be removed?

WHERE IS MY WISDOM TOOTH?

Your wisdom teeth are third molars located distal to the second molars on the upper jaw and lower mandible.  They may start to erupt around 17-25 years of age, though movement later on in the late twenties and thirties are not uncommon.  Wisdom teeth may be hard to keep clean due its location, and may be prone to tooth decay and fracture.  Most people have 4 wisdom teeth, though some variations in number of wisdom teeth exists; some may have three, two, one, or not have any wisdom teeth at all.  Some may even have more than 4 wisdom teeth!  Wisdom teeth can vary in size and root morphology, ranging from size of a small pebble to a very large multi rooted molar bigger than your 1st and 2nd molars.

WHY DO I HAVE WISDOM TEETH?

It is thought that wisdom teeth in prehistoric times helped people chew coarser foods due to a predominant plant based diet of leaves, nuts, roots, as well as some meats.  Our early ancestor’s diet was unprocessed and uncut, and rough in nature.  As time went on, people’s food became softer, processed, and smaller.  Hence the need for wisdom teeth decreased; as a result of evolution, wisdom teeth became largely non functional, so many people’s jaws decreased in size.

WILL MY WISDOM TOOTH ERUPT?

It’s difficult to say if all wisdom teeth teeth erupt.  Some may remain hidden behind existing your second molars.  Some may erupt slightly, showing a small portion of the crown.  And some may be displaced horizontally or at an angle.

DOES MY WISDOM TOOTH NEED TO BE EXTRACTED?

During your dental checkup, your family Bellevue dentist should be able to inform you of your wisdom teeth’s position and condition.  There are many people with developed wisdom teeth that erupt in proper position, have sufficient space, and is in good function.  Wisdom tooth extraction, however, may be required:

  • If it is causing you pain and swelling that is not going away after a few weeks
  • It is causing resorption and/or tooth decay to the tooth directly in front
  • It is causing periodontal disease that is not controllable with proper oral hygiene
  • It is broken due to tooth decay and causing you pain or cheeks to be irritated
  • It is difficult to keep clean with a toothbrush and floss
  • It is positioned excessively towards the cheek and causing you to bite your cheek when eating

Your family dentist can let you know if he or she is able to remove the wisdom tooth for you, or if you need to go see an oral surgeon to have the tooth evaluated for removal.  Roots that are two-thirds formed are optimal.  Generally it is best to have your wisdom tooth removed in our late teens to early 20s for optimal healing times and to help prevent future problems.  Oral surgery for those in the mid 30s and over tend to have longer healing times, higher risk of complications, longer surgery times, and more difficult surgeries.  If you have any questions on if your wisdom teeth needs to be removed, I recommend a consultation with your dentist or get a referral to a local oral surgeon.

From the desk of your gentle dentist,
Dr. Chien
www.bellevuefamilydentistry.com
(425) 614-1600

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