Wisdom Teeth – to keep or remove?

Wisdom teeth are usually the last of our teeth to erupt in the mouth – most commonly between the ages of 18 and 24!

Wisdom teeth are positioned far back in the mouth and a person usually (but not always) has four wisdom teeth – 2 upper & 2 lower.

Sometimes wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to emerge into the expected position at the very back of the mouth and are described as impacted.

An impacted wisdom tooth may not cause any problems. However, on occasions a wisdom tooth can start to penetrate through the gums but only emerges partially into the mouth – your dentist will describe this as partially erupted. For patient’s the tooth can be very difficult to clean and the surrounding gum may become inflamed. Described by your dentist as pericoronitis.

The wisdom tooth may become decayed too, or gum disease may develop in these areas. Sometimes the misdirected wisdom tooth can also cause damage to the tooth in front.

If you are having problems with a wisdom tooth your dentist may recommend that it is extracted. A radiograph will be taken and depending on the position of the wisdom tooth, will determine it the tooth can be extracted at your normal dental practice or if a referral to the hospital needs to be made. In the meantime you may be given antibiotics.

If the wisdom teeth are not causing problems then extraction is usually not advised as the operation to remove the tooth brings its own risks.

If you are having problems with any wisdom teeth please remember to discuss it with your normal dental practitioner.