DR. RUDI AS-SANIE, D.D.S.
Wisdom Teeth: To Keep or Not to Keep?
Everyone always dreads the recommendation of getting their wisdom teeth out. But why? Well let’s face it, no one likes to have surgery or be put under. The only part of that the general public enjoys is watching videos of people coming out of their anesthesia. The real question is: why do some people get to keep their wisdom teeth, and others don’t? What happens if my dentist tells me to get them out and I don’t? Believe it or not, we recommend things for a reason. We are all about PREVENTATIVE dental care which means prevent something wrong before it happens. Here’s the scoop on those “extra teeth” we don’t really need.
What happens if I don’t get them out?
If your dentist is recommending the wisdom teeth come out, you really should get them out. We typically address the wisdom teeth around junior/senior year of high school, or age 17-18. This is when we have a good idea of whether or not a person has room for them or not. We take a panoramic x-ray that circles around your head and shows us all your teeth, including the roots and surrounding bone. This shows us how many wisdom teeth there are and if the roots are developed enough to have them extracted and if the patient does, in fact, have enough room to keep them. Some patients only have one wisdom tooth or none (lucky!!). We have seen some with 8. That’s right, and they grew two sets.
What Age Should You Remove Your Wisdom Teeth
The younger the wisdom teeth come out, the better. The bone is more flexible, and the healing time is faster. Delaying having them out can cause cysts to develop around the teeth, leading to infections and more invasive surgeries. We have seen it: 25-year-old male presents with pain on the lower left. We had recommended the wisdom teeth come out at age 18 due to shortage of space.
A Patient Who Didn’t Get Their Wisdom Teeth Removed
All four teeth were impacted (under the gums). The patient developed a cyst on the lower left wisdom tooth and was referred to the oral surgeon immediately. The bone had to be scraped out under the tooth and sent in for a biopsy. The extra scraping or debriding, along with the biopsy bill, led to the patient having a much longer recovery and more out of pocket costs. Thankfully the cyst was benign, and no further action had to be taken. Thank goodness this was caught early because if left untreated, could have caused a hold in the jaw. The risks of surgery highly outweigh, keeping them, and not being able to predict what the future holds. If they do happen to come in the mouth, we typically see gum problems and cavities develop due to hard to access areas.
Why do some people have a room and get to keep them?
Like we said earlier, every single patient is different. Some people have large mouths, and the gum tissue is healthy around the wisdom teeth, and they can keep them super clean. We also see a lot of cases where a patient had 4 teeth out for braces due to crowding, but later grew and had room for the wisdom teeth to come in and stay. Trust us when we say this: If we truly believe you have room to keep the teeth and keep them healthy and predict they will not cause issues down the road; we will absolutely recommend keeping them. The thing is, the average person, unfortunately, does not have room and needs to get them out.
At Dental Reflections Dublin, we typically refer all of our wisdom teeth extractions to an oral surgeon, who specializes in removing these types of teeth. Wisdom teeth can be unpredictable and come in different sizes and shapes, so we feel most comfortable with our patients in the hands of a surgeon, who extract teeth all day long. Recovery is the same whether having one or four removed at the same time, so we recommend all 4 to keep it to one procedure. An oral surgeon can address any questions or concerns you may have about recovery, sedation options, and the procedure itself.