Every week I see a number of new patients and many times I end up recommending the extraction of wisdom teeth.
Inevitably I get some very similar questions:
Why do I need them out? They aren't bothering me!
Why now, my last dentist didn't say anything?
Well for most people it is pretty straight forward, if the wisdom teeth are hurting and there isn't enough space for them to come in, they need to be extracted. Pretty straightforward!
But what about those people whose wisdom teeth aren't hurting, why do they need to come out?
The answer to that always depends on the specific case.
Of course if there is enough room in the jaws and the teeth come in properly then wisdom teeth are normal teeth and can stay.
What does come in properly mean?
The gums around the teeth must sit low around the tooth like any other tooth so that the tooth can be cleaned properly. Also there must be enough room around the tooth so that it can be cleaned by a tooth brush and if need be, the dentist able to do a filling back there. If not, the tooth will either eventually decay or get recurrent gum infections. Since the tooth can not be cleaned or filled properly then the tooth will need to be extracted. Accordingly, as a dentist, our first thoughts are always, will this be a normal tooth or will it have to eventually be extracted.
That brings us to the question of why now if it is not hurting me?
Wisdom teeth when taken out when you are young, up till about age 24 get very good healing of the bone in the socket, after that not as much. This is very important for the future health of the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth. Also, wisdom teeth are easier to extract when you are younger as the bone is more pliable and the tooth will move easier.
In addition, as my dad always said to me, you do any surgeries while you are young and healthy. People don't often think ahead but if you have to do even a minor surgery when you are older and your health is in decline and you are on multiple medications, sometimes a simple procedure can become complicated.
Of course we can't forget Murphy's Law, it may not hurt now but when you want to go on vacation or any event of significance in your life you can bet your bottom dollar that it will start to hurt.
This is really a simple overview and not meant to be a textbook on the subject. If you have a question on the subject you can always e-mail me. If you have a dentist, discuss it with your dentist as every case is different with it's unique set of circumstances which require a dentist or oral surgeon to give their expert opinion.
All the best
Dr. Ron Barzilay
A Dentist in Hamilton Ontario