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 checkups will help your dentist follow your teeth' progress. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), as your wisdom teeth grow in, your dentist will be looking for the following:
- Positioning: If they come up in the wrong place, food can get trapped, causing bacteria to grow.
- Oral Care: Improper eruption can make it difficult to remove plaque between the new molars.
- Infection: Partially erupted wisdom teeth can give bacteria a place to enter the gums, creating a risk of infection.
- Crowding: If there's no room for the new molars, it may cause neighboring teeth movement.
- Impacted tooth: An impacted wisdom tooth may form a cyst, potentially damaging the roots of nearby teeth or the bone.
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.