Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to develop and enter your mouth. If wisdom teeth come into the mouth in a proper position and meet certain conditions, it’s generally accepted that you can keep them. However, they are still prone to disease, even if you experience no pain and have no symptoms. This is why the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons strongly recommends that third molars be evaluated annually from the time a patient is a young adult.
Studies have shown that about 9 out of 10 people have at least one wisdom tooth that can’t break through the gums in an upright, functional position. As we say, it becomes “impacted.” If left alone, an impacted tooth can become infected or damage neighboring teeth. That can lead to gum disease and even the formation of cysts or tumors.
By the time you feel pain or notice that something is wrong, it may be too late to prevent the problem. If a tooth does have to be removed, it’s better to do it when you’re young and the roots haven’t fully formed. There’s less chance that the roots of the teeth will damage nearby nerves or other structures.
Oral and facial surgeons are the recognized specialists in the management of third-molar teeth. Usually, the surgical care can be provided in the oral and facial surgeon’s office. The surgeon’s skill and knowledge of anesthesia care assure you of a safe and comfortable surgical experience.
If, after consulting with your family dentist and oral and facial surgeon, you decide to keep your wisdom teeth, they do require proper management. That includes professional cleaning on a regular basis, annual checkups, and periodic x-rays to monitor for changes. This will ensure the best possible oral health as it relates to your wisdom teeth.
© American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons