The third molars, also known as the wisdom teeth, are the largest teeth in the mouth. In fact, they are so large that many people’s jaws do not have enough room for them to erupt properly, causing them to become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed, typically by an oral surgeon, because they can cause a variety of issues for patients.
While most patients will ultimately want to pursue wisdom teeth extraction, some patients may be reluctant to undergo a surgical procedure if their wisdom teeth are not symptomatic in any way. In fact, some patients may have large enough jaws to fit the wisdom teeth. However, this is not very common.
Even if you are skeptical about the prospect of wisdom tooth extraction, it’s wise to consult with an oral surgeon who can evaluate your case by examining your facial structures and taking x-rays. Evidence of impacted wisdom teeth can be seen in patients as young as 12 or 13, and many older teens and young adults get a wisdom tooth extraction. It’s almost like a rite of passage.
The list of potential issues with impacted wisdom teeth is long and includes concerns like abscesses, infections, discomfort, damage to surrounding teeth and misalignment of teeth. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to determine when any of these problems will develop with impacted wisdom teeth. That’s why some patients choose to have their wisdom teeth removed even if they’re not having any symptoms.
The timing of wisdom tooth extraction can make a difference in the patient’s experience as well. Generally, the procedure is more straightforward in patients under age 25, who also recover more quickly and experience fewer complications. That being said, older patients may still be able to have impacted wisdom teeth removed, but may need to take extra precautions against post-operative complications or plan for a longer recovery period. Your surgeon can give you more specific guidance in this area.
If you still have your wisdom teeth, we encourage you to call our team at Stonebriar Facial & Oral Surgery to schedule an evaluation to determine what course of treatment (if any) is most appropriate in your case.