For some of us, a trip to the dentist seems like an arduous task. If we are lucky, we get through our annual cleanings without hearing bad news, particularly the need to come in for some drilling and fillings. For those of us with wisdom teeth, each trip may cause some anxiety as we wait for the inevitable news that they must be removed. Of course, it is not required – some people have lived with their wisdom teeth all their lives. How do we know when it’s time for them to come out?
Wisdom teeth are called such because they typically grow during adulthood. Not everybody who grows these teeth is able to keep them, however – it all depends on the size of your mouth and whether or not the teeth grow correctly. Here are a few things to watch, and feel, for when you believe it’s time for those back molars to be removed.
1) Incorrect growth. When wisdom teeth come in crooked, they may impact your other teeth and your jaw. Unlike children who need braces to help adult teeth straighten, there is no such procedure for these back molars. A dentist will typically recommend extraction.
2) Constant pain. Minor irritations may not upset you enough to seek removal, but if you find a continuous pain in your jaw and other teeth that is related to your four wisdom teeth, you should definitely let your dentist know. The pain may not correct itself later on, and extraction could be the only relief.
3) Difficulty eating. When you try to eat with wisdom teeth still intact and find that food gets caught in the gum flap that covers them. This in turn could cause your gums to become infected, leading to a host of other problems. You may not always be able to brush well in the back of your mouth and prevent this.
The best way to determine that your wisdom teeth should be removed, of course, is to schedule an appointment with your dentist, who will examine your mouth and look for the visual signs. Once it is confirmed that they need to go, you will schedule a time for the minor surgery. Depending on how the teeth come in, you may have them removed two at a time (bottoms then tops, or vice-versa) or all at once – though it is generally recommended to have them all removed at the same time to save you the trouble of a second appointment.
It is possible to live with your wisdom teeth if they are not bothersome, but take care to sense any changes that imply that they need to go.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach dentists.