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Wise Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Somewhere between the ages of 16- 25, most people's third molars begin to erupt through the gum line at the very back of their mouths. These are more commonly known as the “wisdom teeth.” They were very useful to our ancient ancestors to help them chew the coarse roots, fibrous plants, and uncooked meats that were very common for the diet at the time. Back then, this daily wear and tear would cause a person to lose some of their molars as they got older, and the wisdom teeth simply replaced them. However, thanks to modern dentistry and cooking techniques, they are no longer needed, so the human jaw began to shrink slowly over time. Unfortunately, nature being what it is, most people still have their wisdom teeth despite this.

Why They Need to Be Removed

X-rays of wisdom teeth

The modern jaw often can't accommodate the wisdom teeth, and this can lead to two unhealthy conditions: crowding of the existing permanent teeth and/or impaction – the incoming molars getting stuck in place. Your family dentist in Chaska at Chaska Dental Center will typically start keeping an eye on the developing wisdom teeth of a patient around age 11 or 12, and they will usually recommend extraction prior to 17-19 years of age. The goal is to extract the teeth before they can cause any problems. It’s much simpler to remove them while they are not causing any issues than to wait until a person is experiencing pain and soreness.

What Happens If They Are Not Removed

Man in dental chair holding jaw

While extracting these teeth may not sound like a lot of fun, it's far better than the alternative. Crowded teeth can misalign your bite, create chronic jaw pain, make you more vulnerable to gum disease, and cause dental problems for the rest of your life. Partially-erupted wisdom teeth allow bacteria and germs to accumulate and multiply, which can lead to an infection or the formation of cysts. In fact, even tumors can grow on a trapped wisdom tooth.

Impacted or partially-erupted wisdom teeth often try to force their entry by pushing up in whichever direction they find the most give: sideways, vertically, backward, or forward. They can then become stuck while still fully encased in the jawbone (called a bony impaction) or prior to erupting through the gums (called a soft tissue impaction). Both of these situations can easily cause pain, swelling, and an infection. Eventually, the infection can spread to the jaw bone, which can weaken its ability to hold the other teeth in place.

If you have any questions or are currently feeling discomfort because of your wisdom teeth, be sure to contact our office today.