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Why Do Wisdom Teeth Commonly Cause Problems With Dental Health? Should You Have Them Removed?

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If you're a teenager and have recently started to suffer from pain and sensitivity in your teeth, this may be a sign that your wisdom teeth are coming in. Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars, and they're the last set of adult teeth to erupt. While not everyone will develop wisdom teeth, they're very common. 

Wisdom teeth often grow incorrectly, and this leads to them becoming impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to severe pain, sensitive teeth and increased risk of gum disease, so it's important to have them removed in order to alleviate the pain and protect your dental health in the future. Read on to learn more information about why wisdom teeth can cause dental problems and what you can do to have them removed.

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Dental Health Issues?

The primary problem caused by wisdom teeth is that they often don't grow in properly, which causes them to become impacted. Wisdom teeth sometimes grow in at an angle, which causes them to grow towards your other teeth. They may also grow in too short, causing them to never erupt and remain permanently beneath your gumline.

Impacted wisdom teeth place a significant amount of pressure on your gums and on your other teeth, which leads to persistent soreness and increased sensitivity. They can also push your other teeth out of position, causing your teeth to crowd closer together. Wisdom teeth also commonly trap food particles around them, and it's difficult to brush them fully — they're simply located too far back in your mouth. The trapped food particles allow for bacteria to grow, and these bacteria can cause gum disease. 

How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure performed by an oral surgeon. In most cases, you'll be sedated during the surgery in order to reduce pain and anxiety. An oral surgeon will use a scalpel to fully expose the wisdom teeth. After that, the surgeon cuts the roots of the wisdom teeth and removes them from your jawbone. Large wisdom teeth may be cut into smaller pieces using a drill — this makes them easier to extract. Once the wisdom teeth are removed, the surgeon places gauze over the empty space in order to help a clot form in the area. 

Should People Always Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Sometimes your wisdom teeth may not be impacted. They grow in normally like the rest of your adult teeth. In these cases, wisdom teeth typically don't cause any symptoms such as pain or swelling.

However, it's still recommended to have your wisdom teeth removed even if they're not impacted. They're still difficult to brush and can increase your risk of gum disease. If the wisdom teeth cause dental problems later in your life, the surgery will be more difficult — younger people heal faster and have bones that are more flexible. It's better to have your wisdom teeth removed shortly after they erupt since the surgery is easier to perform and has a reduced risk of complications.

What Should You Do if You Think Your Wisdom Teeth Are Starting to Erupt?

If you think that your wisdom teeth are coming in, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. The only way to definitively tell whether or not your wisdom teeth are coming in is a dental X-ray. An X-ray also gives your dentist a chance to see how your wisdom teeth are growing in; it allows him or her to determine whether or not they're likely to become impacted and cause dental problems.

Afterward, your dentist can refer you to an oral surgeon skilled in wisdom teeth extraction — these procedures are very commonly performed, complications are rare and the surgery can eliminate the pain caused by impacted wisdom teeth and prevent them from negatively affecting your future dental health.