The third molars, more commonly known as “wisdom teeth,” helped ancestral humans to chew a rougher entirely vegetarian diet. Although wisdom teeth once served a purpose, they’re no longer necessary. In fact, over time, human jaws have evolved in a way that has left little room for them to erupt and fit into the dental arch properly. Not only are wisdom teeth superfluous, but they frequently cause harm to adjacent teeth with crowding, gum disease, chronic infection and cavity formation.
Because the wisdom teeth are unnecessary and can eventually cause significant pain, most young adults have them removed prophylactically. The wisdom teeth are typically extracted with safe, comfortable sedation when patients are in their late teens or early twenties.
But how do you know exactly when to schedule the removal of your wisdom teeth?
Patients should have their wisdom teeth removed before they begin to cause serious trouble. In fact, if you wait too long to have your wisdom teeth removed and they remain impacted, you will encounter complications, such as inflammation and infection. If untreated, an impacted wisdom tooth can even cause destructive bone cysts and tumors to develop. If you have had orthodontic treatment, waiting too long to get your wisdom teeth out can wipe out the results of that treatment. This is because when wisdom teeth struggle to break through the gum, they can cause other teeth to shift and they can resorb/dissolve neighboring tooth roots.
Unless you have severe complicating factors, your wisdom teeth can be safely removed with an outpatient procedure performed in an oral surgeon’s office. The complexity of your case will determine whether conscious sedation or general anesthesia is used, but most patients opt to be soundly sleeping throughout the entire procedure for a relaxing, stress-free, pleasant experience.
Preferably, you should have your wisdom teeth removed while you’re in your late teens and no later than age 25. However, even if you’re over 30 years old, if you still have your wisdom teeth, you should strongly consider having them removed because they can cause a problem at any age, lead to systemic health issues and your ability for an easy recuperation diminishes with advancing age.
Contact Dr. Steven Koos D.D.S., M.D., a specialist in the removal of wisdom teeth in the Chicago area, for more information and to schedule a consultation.