For many young adults, "getting your wisdom teeth in" is a rite of passage that comes and goes without event. For others, the eruption of wisdom teeth can become a problem if they cause crowding in your mouth, erupt in the wrong position, or become impacted. A wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure performed by a dentist or oral surgeon to remove one or more of your wisdom teeth (third molars) and prevent these complications. While it's a more complicated procedure than getting a filling or braces, wisdom teeth removal is a common dental milestone and can help ensure a healthy smile.
How do I know if I need a wisdom tooth extraction?
Visiting your dentist twice a year for regular check-ups will help your dentist follow your teeth' progress. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), as your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums, your dentist will be monitoring your mouth for signs of the following:
- Positioning: Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position can allow food to become trapped. That gives cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.
- Oral Care: Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly, which can make it difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
- Infection: Wisdom teeth that have partially come through can give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create a place for infection to occur. This may also lead to pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
- Crowding: Wisdom teeth that don’t have room to come through are thought by some to crowd or damage neighbouring teeth.
- Impacted tooth: A wisdom tooth that is impacted can form a cyst on or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that supports your teeth.
Additionally, getting your wisdom teeth out when you're young may be healthier in the long run as you risk fewer complications than older adults.