Making Wise Decisions About Your Teeth
As you transition to your late teenage years, you might notice that there are a few more teeth in the back of your mouth. These teeth are called “wisdom teeth,” and usually begin to show signs that they are present when you’re about 16 or 17 years old. Sometimes, these teeth need to be removed because they are impacted (stuck in the bone) or don’t break through the gums, and can cause damage to adjacent teeth. Other times, they could push through the bone and gum tissue as they should, which can be beneficial for chewing if you have enough room in your mouth for them. If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth, Dr. Schultz can perform a thorough evaluation and tell you whether or not your wisdom teeth could pose a problem, now or in the future.
If there’s not enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth, but they’re trying to push through your bone and gum tissue, you’ll usually notice a few symptoms—including a feeling of pressure, jaw pain, gum tissue pain, or difficulty opening and closing your mouth. Even if you do have room in your mouth for more teeth, your wisdom teeth could be sitting at an odd angle, or even sideways, preventing them from erupting. This often means that these need to be removed.
Dr. Schultz likes to take a panoramic x-ray at regular intervals once you approach the age of wisdom tooth development. We will monitor not only the wisdom teeth, but also any areas around your gum tissue that could lead to food and bacteria getting trapped, potentially causing an infection. You might not be able to floss or brush your teeth properly, if your wisdom teeth don’t erupt as they should. Sometimes, damage can occur to neighboring teeth if your wisdom teeth don’t have enough space.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
There are a few reasons why Dr. Schultz might recommend removal of your wisdom teeth. The most common reason is because of pain. You might not have pain directly where your teeth are located, but sometimes, impacted wisdom teeth can cause headaches or pain that radiates to your ears or sinuses.
Removal of your wisdom teeth may also be recommended if there are signs of an infection, or if there is an indication of a cyst forming around the tooth. You could also have your wisdom teeth removed if there is clear damage to other teeth. If you plan going into orthodontic treatment, then your dentist might suggest having your wisdom teeth removed as a way to allow the other teeth to have room to shift during the orthodontic treatment process.
You usually have time to make a decision about whether wisdom tooth removal is the best option. Dr. Schultz will physically examine your teeth and gums at each dental appointment, and can also monitor your teeth by taking the appropriate x-rays. If you notice any significant changes between appointments, then you need to inform Dr. Schultz in order to determine if the teeth have moved, and may need some attention.
In the event that you have enough space for wisdom teeth, and that they do not pose a problem to any of your adjacent teeth, wisdom teeth that remain in your mouth always need to be monitored for any signs of an infection or decay. It’s possible that there could be issues that arise years after your wisdom teeth erupt, that weren’t present at first. Make sure you go to each dental appointment and maintain a great home care routine to keep all of your teeth as clean as possible—especially if you have wisdom teeth, since they are located further back in your mouth.
Schedule an Appointment
By continually going to regular dental appointments, Dr. Schultz can monitor your teeth, and specifically your wisdom teeth, very closely. If Dr. Schultz notices your wisdom teeth coming in at an odd angle, or if they are causing any pain, then she may recommend their removal. If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, or just want to have them checked, call our office to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to take a look, and let you know what we think!