Today, we want to start our post with a thought experiment: What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t remove your wisdom teeth?
For starters, we can assume that someone has impacted wisdom teeth. These are teeth that can’t erupt correctly and completely. Those teeth can press into nearby teeth, which can cause changes to the appearance of your smile and to your bite.
Over time, this can cause crowding. As a result, you may be more likely to develop cavities, gum disease, and tooth infections. These can be painful as well. In some cases, these third molars can cause cysts to form and may put pressure on nerves near the jaw. Either of these may become quite painful.
The longer these problems persist, the more likely you are to lose multiple teeth. When these teeth come in wrong (as they do for many, many people), you could be looking at a lifetime of oral health problem.
What Wisdom Teeth Are
We noted above that your wisdom teeth are your third molars. You may already know that the molars are the larger, flatter teeth in the back of your mouth. Their primary function is to help you grind down food into smaller pieces. This makes your food easier to digest, which makes it easier for your body to get the nutrients it needs from your food.
Your first set of molars typically erupts around 6 or 7 years old. The second molars come in between 11 and 13 years old.
The wisdom teeth generally erupt (or at least try to erupt) when people are in their late teens or early 20s. The problem is that most people’s jaws aren’t large enough for these teeth to fully emerge.
This is why teeth can become impacted. They may break the surface of the gums (partially impacted) or they might not (fully impacted). In either case, you can experience the crowding and increased risk of decay and gum infections that we mentioned above.
Removing The Problem
This is one of the reasons regular dental checkups are so important. As part of your routine dental exams, we take X-rays to monitor changes in your teeth. This includes the eruption of your wisdom teeth.
Many times, we can identify potential problems before you experience the issues we described above. If we notice you are likely to have issues down the road, we recommend removing these teeth before they can cause those other concerns.
As a quick side note, recovering from having your wisdom teeth removed is easier when you are younger. As you get older, your wisdom teeth become more firmly embedded in your jaw. They can still be taken out if needed, it’s just easier to handle when you are younger.
Save Your Smile
By having your wisdom teeth extracted, you may be saving your smile and sparing yourself from a lifetime of oral health problems. Let Dr. Perkins and our team in Huntsville, AL help you.