Wisdom-tooth extraction is one of the most commonly performed dental surgeries. If you are experiencing toothaches, you may be wondering if your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Here are three dental-health conditions that may require wisdom-tooth extraction.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
In some cases, the wisdom teeth may fail to fully emerge from the gums. This condition is known as impacted wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth can become impacted if they are positioned at the wrong angle when they start growing in due to imperfect development. If your wisdom teeth are angled too far in the direction of the cheek or the tongue, the tissues around the teeth that drive them up through the gums will stop expanding before the teeth have breached the surface of the gums.
Impacted wisdom teeth that are angled in the direction of the molar in front of them can be much more problematic. These wisdom teeth will press against the adjacent tooth as they try to erupt, potentially causing the wisdom tooth or adjacent molar to crack and break. This leads to a much higher risk of tooth decay and infection because it is easier for bacteria in the mouth to access the pulp of the damaged tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth can sometimes cause a cyst to form in the gum tissue around the tooth. A cyst is a sac of tissue filled with fluid that often enlarges if it is left untreated. Dental cysts are not a problem that should be ignored, as they can lead to nerve damage in the gums, can lead to destruction of nearby teeth and jawbone, and in rare cases develop into tumors. If a cyst has developed, your oral surgeon will usually extract your impacted wisdom tooth and remove the cyst during the same procedure.
Many people simply do not have enough room in their mouth for wisdom teeth even if they successfully emerge from the gums. One theory for why this occurs is that early humans needed wisdom teeth for chewing tougher food, but our jaws shrank over time as our diets changed.
Like impacted teeth that press against the adjacent molar, wisdom-tooth crowding can lead to decay-causing damage to the second molars and the wisdom teeth. Additionally, crowding will make it more difficult to brush all surfaces of the teeth in the back of the mouth. This increases the risk of cavities even if none of the crowded teeth have cracked or broken.
Keep these signs of wisdom-tooth problems in mind and never ignore painful or broken wisdom teeth so you can have them extracted before more serious problems develop.