Perhaps the most dreaded dental procedure is the removal of the wisdom teeth. Generally, teens and young adults hear horror stories about recoveries or watch funny videos of people who are recovering after surgery.
However, wisdom teeth can be misunderstood, and most of the time, the procedure itself does not have to be traumatic. If you are concerned about wisdom teeth growth and removal, learn more about common questions and concerns that patients might have about the teeth, the removal process, and the recovery.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth (so named because they grow in during adolescence or early adulthood) don’t always have to be removed. They can grow into your mouth straight and cause few, if any, long-term dental problems. However, the majority of people need some or all of these four large molars removed because:
- They can crowd other teeth. Teens who have had braces can be dismayed to discover that their wisdom teeth are pushing their nicely-straightened smile out of alignment. Crowding also causes cleaning issues which increases the risk of dental decay.
- They can grow crooked or even sideways. A common problem is that a person’s mouth can actually be too small for wisdom teeth to emerge properly. The teeth push into the roots of other teeth. This problem is known as impaction, and it causes pain and can damage other teeth that are otherwise healthy.
- They can aggravate other conditions. Patients who have headaches, jaw problems, or migraines may find that wisdom teeth make these problems worse.
Wisdom teeth are slow growing, and problems might not appear right away. For example, cysts or open pockets can form around these teeth, causing pain in the jaw or creating places for bacteria to collect. You might have tender or swollen gums or even risk developing an abscess.