Wisdom Teeth Warning Signs and Reasons to Remove

For many, just the term ‘wisdom tooth’ invokes visions of any number of things other than wisdom. The truth is, most people will have their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their lifetime. Through understanding the warning signs of problematic wisdom teeth, as well as the different reasons people choose to have these molars removed, you can make more informed decisions about your own dental care and potentially prevent painful and expensive procedures down the line.

What is a wisdom tooth?

Officially known as the third molars, they have become known to many as ‘wisdom teeth’ due to their late arrival in life. Usually erupting into the mouths of those aged 17-21, an age where people are presumed to be ‘wiser’ than when the rest of their adult teeth came through. Unlike other healthy teeth, however, wisdom teeth often grow in crooked or misaligned, pushing on other teeth and causing problems with misalignment of the other teeth.

Overcrowding and Impacted Wisdom Teeth

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) around 85% of wisdom teeth eventually require extraction due to their role in tooth crowding. These trouble-making teeth have long been known as problematic and are considered the most commonly impacted teeth in the mouth. Most often being blocked as it is erupting and still in the gum, wisdom teeth may be impacted due to it coming in crooked, or because there is not enough room in the mouth to receive them.

Wisdom Teeth Warning Signs

Some of the most common warning signs of an impacted or infected wisdom tooth are:

• Swollen, red gums
• Pain and swelling in the jaw
• Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
• Unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth
• Bad breath

An impacted tooth may show some or even none of these symptoms initially, you might not even realize it is there until it tries to come in. An untreated impacted wisdom tooth can lead to serious complications such as pericoronitis, cysts, misaligned jaw and problems with the neighboring molars.

Preventative Removal

For many people, considering wisdom tooth removal is often a byproduct of existing painful symptoms. However, the process of removing wisdom is generally simpler in people under the age of 20, as the bone is more flexible and the teeth have less developed roots. Preventative removal is a popular choice, and the American Dental Association recommends that everybody should get checked between the ages of 16 to 19 to see if their wisdom teeth need to be removed.

Even though some wisdom teeth will never cause dental problems, research has shown that even if wisdom teeth erupt in a normal, asymptomatic and upright position, they may still be just as prone to problems and disease as impacted ones.

By investigating the possibility of preventative removal and getting checked for early signs of impacted wisdom teeth, you can greatly reduce the pain, expense and serious side-effects that come from letting problematic wisdom teeth go untreated.

If you have any symptoms or removal inquiries for your wisdom teeth, our team at Signal Hill Dental Centre welcomes your questions and would be happy to provide some answers.