Is wisdom teeth removal necessary?
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 10:09 am
By: Dr. Randall LeDuke, Special to The Press
Wisdom teeth are referred to by dentists as third molars, meaning the third set of molars that develop at the back of the row of teeth, closest to the jaw joint.
There are few mouths with sufficient room to accommodate three sets of molar teeth.
So wisdom teeth often become trapped beneath the second set of molars. This is called impaction and can lead to several consequences, none of them good.
Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to a variety of complications including infection and cyst formation within the jawbone.
They can contribute to crowding and bite problems. Some unerupted wisdom teeth can develop into very nasty and destructive jaw pathologies, although, fortunately, this is rare.
The most common complications from impacted and unerupted or partially erupted wisdom teeth involve infection, cysts and damage to the second molars.
Although problems with wisdom teeth usually manifest themselves in the young adult, they pose a threat throughout the lifetime of the adult and can become a problem at any age, even in elder years.
If the adolescent develops reasonably healthy first and second molars and x-rays show the presence of third molars with little chance of normal functional eruption, plans should be made to have the teeth removed at the earliest opportunity.
In my practice we like to remove the teeth when the roots of the wisdom teeth are one-half to two-thirds developed.
This is the stage of development when they are the easiest to remove with the least likelihood of post-surgical complications.
Wisdom teeth removal is no picnic at any age, but the process is easier and more quickly recovered from when performed early.
Most cases are routine and after a few days of rest and soft diet, any swelling and discomfort subside and your wisdom teeth are soon a distant memory.
Some mouths possess sufficient arch length to accommodate third molars, fully erupted and in good chewing function. But in my experience, this is rare.
If the arch length is not going to support the presence of wisdom teeth, they should be removed at the earliest and most ideal time.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Randall LeDuke’s dentist office is located at 214 W. Church St. in Union City. For more information, visit www.smilesbyleduke.com.