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Andrew M. Sklar, DDS
Is It Wise To Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?
Andrew M. Sklar, DDS, PC

Is It Wise To Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to develop and emerge, usually appearing between the ages of 17 and 25. For some, wisdom teeth erupt normally, causing no problems. Many people, however, develop impacted wisdom teeth teeth that are unable to erupt normally because there is not enough room.

Nine out of ten people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, which can result in problems such as pain, infection, damage to adjacent teeth and surrounding bone, development of cysts, and complications with orthodontic treatments. Most dental professionals agree that impacted wisdom teeth should be removed if any of these problems develop. Questions arise, however, when impacted or fully erupted wisdom teeth are problem free should they be removed as a preventive measure?

With fully erupted wisdom teeth, many people believe that as long as they are not in pain, there is no reason for concern. However, because this area of the mouth is hard to reach. wisdom teeth are difficult to keep clean and are particularly vulnerable to cavities, bacteria and gum disease.

A study monitoring 254 patients in their twenties who opted to keep all four of their wisdom teeth found that 60% already had signs of early gum disease around those teeth when the study began. Gum disease found in the wisdom tooth area is particularly persistent and progressive, with an increased risk of spreading to the rest of the mouth and body.

Oral bacteria can travel from your mouth through the bloodstream, causing infections and illnesses. There is a growing body of evidence linking inflammation from chronic infections in the body, including gum disease, to a host of serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and pregnancy difficulties.

It is difficult to predict if future problems with impacted wisdom teeth, such as those described earlier, will arise. However, we do know that it is simpler to remove wisdom teeth in the absence of these problems and also when the patient is younger, since the roots are not completely formed, the surrounding bone is softer, the jawbone less dense, and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures.

If, after discussing your situation with your family dentist or oral surgeon, you decide to keep your wisdom teeth, be sure to take particular care in cleaning and flossing your teeth, especially your molars. Your dentist should continue to monitor the health of your wisdom teeth and surrounding teeth and gums during your annual check-up.

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