However, if the tooth causes symptoms, for instance a recurrent gum infection, you are sometimes better off having the tooth removed rather than run the risk of developing more severe symptoms in the future. Three episodes of infection is normally considered a high-risk case.
Another indication for removal is possible damage to the otherwise sound neighbouring tooth. This can happen either because of decay or resorption of the neighbouring tooth’s root by the wisdom tooth. If there is a high likelihood of damage to the neighbouring tooth, it is acceptable to sacrifice a problematic tooth for the wellbeing of the whole mouth. An orthodontist may also request that the wisdom teeth be removed as they could interfere with treatment involving the second-last molars.
WHAT DOES EXTRACTION ENTAIL?
Although horror stories abound, the vast majority of wisdom tooth extractions are relatively simple and recovery is fast. This is however dependent on the size, shape and position of the tooth. With simple extractions there is usually little swelling, bruising and/or bleeding and the procedure can normally be performed by your dentist in the dental chair. More complex extractions where the tooth is severely trapped are generally carried out by a specialist, sometimes in a surgical environment. Your dentist will be able to use X-rays to determine the complexity of your extraction and advise you on what to expect.
A FINAL THOUGHT
As indicated, the majority of problems occur when a tooth is partially erupted, thereby increasing the risk of developing gum infection and decay. By being extra vigilant in cleaning this area these teeth can hide away for many years without giving any problems. Even if gum infection develops, early treatment with antiseptic mouth rinses and tissue salts can often clear the symptoms within a few days. With fully impacted teeth there is less risk of developing infection and they are generally therefore less of a problem. However, in both cases if there is a risk of damage to the neighbouring tooth or surrounding structures, it is sometimes advisable to sacrifice a problematic tooth for the wellbeing of the whole mouth.
Like most aspects of dentistry, the goal of treatment is to maintain a comfortable and disease-free environment. When considering the treatment for your wisdom teeth it is important to ascertain how much their presence is impacting on your life and what risk there is of developing disease. Just because they are present does not always mean that they should be removed.