Wisdom teeth are the final and third set of molars most people get during their late teenage years or early twenties. In some situations these teeth can be healthy and aligned properly, but unfortunately more often than not they are impacted or misaligned, causing complications and requiring removal.
When a patient’s wisdom teeth erupt misaligned, they can be positioned in various ways including: horizontal, angled toward/away from teeth or even angled inward or outward. Alignment issues of wisdom teeth can cause crowding, spacing issues and even damage to nearby teeth.
When a patient’s wisdom teeth become impacted, serious complications can occur. They can become enclosed in tissue or the jawbone or even partially erupt. This can allow for bacteria to enter around the tooth, leading to infection. The infection can result in swelling, pain and in rare cases even sepsis (an infection of the blood) which can be life threatening. Partially erupted wisdom teeth can also be harder to reach to brush and floss, leading to an increased risk of decay, infection and even gum disease.
Depending on the position of your wisdom teeth, stage of development, and risk for complications, your wisdom teeth may not need to be removed. However, more often than not, wisdom teeth require extraction due to alignment issues and complications. If your teeth have fully erupted, the extraction process will be as simple as any other tooth extraction. Impacted or partially erupted teeth, can be more complicated and invasive. These situations require an incision into your gums and the possible removal of tissue/bone covering the tooth. The tooth may have to be removed in small pieces to minimize the amount of tissue/bone that needs to be removed to extract the tooth.