Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth are not needed to support our bite, and offer no benefit in our chewing capacity. Research has shown no benefit to the occlusion in keeping our wisdom teeth.
So why do we have wisdom teeth?
Over the generations, the size of the human jaws are getting smaller and smaller and it's not rare that the wisdom teeth get stuck on their way up. Often part of the wisdom tooth shows through the gum, and the other part stays under the gums. This is known as impaction.
When wisdom teeth are impacted, bacteria can seep in under the gums causing inflammation to the region. The resultant inflammation often eats away the jaw bone around the wisdom teeth. This causes nasty and painful infections known as pericoronitis (see image below).
Consequences of leaving them in.
To avoid having to deal with the debilitating effects of facial pain that results from wisdom teeth, they are often removed at the first sign of infection. Even after being treated, Infections often recur during moments of stress.
While pain is bad, It is the silent problems that cause long term damage to the mouth. Repeated episodes of infections can damage the jaw bone and become an ongoing source of bacteria in the mouth.
Damage to the neighbouring teeth
More often than not, wisdom teeth rot away the tooth directly in front of them. This is true for both upper and lower wisdom teeth. These teeth (second molars), if damaged, often cannot be saved and are removed along with the wisdom teeth as the damage is usually extensive. To save these teeth, it is highly recommended that the wisdom teeth are removed to prevent this from occurring. The earlier they are removed, the better the chances for the neighbouring teeth are.
The number 1 cause of cyst formation in the jaws are wisdom teeth. And while rare, there is more than one type of cyst or tumour that can present. The most common of which is known as a Keratocystic Odontogenic Tumour (or KOT). They can be nasty and actively eat away a large portion of the jaw.
Weakening of the Lower Jaw
Damage to the Bite
Interfere with Orthodontic Teeth Straightening
Due to its nature, some people choose to be asleep or sedated during the procedure. You can either be put to sleep completely (general anaesthetic), be partially sedated with IV sedation (twilight) or oral sedation (tablets), or simply have them removed under local aneasthetic.
Whatever option you choose, you will be numb during the procedure and will not feel any pain. The process does involve your doctor removing the surrounding gum and bone and possibly dividing the tooth into fragments to help get them out. This process alleviates pressure from the nerve and structures beneath. Its important to consider your options carefully to determine the best outcome for your situation.
Every procedure caries a risk, and wisdom teeth removal are no different. Even the everyday morning drive to work has a risk.
The major risks with wisdom teeth removal are:
Lower Teeth- The lower wisdom teeth sit rather close to a nerve. Sometimes this nerve may be bruised or damaged during the procedure. Your doctor takes either, a 2D, or 3D scan beforehand to see how close your wisdom teeth are to the nerve and to assess the degree of difficulty.
The risk is either temporary or permanant numbness to the lower lip, chin and tongue (Less than 1 in 1million).
Upper Teeth- The upper wisdom teeth sit rather close to the maxillary sinus. The sinus is air filled and its role is to lighten the weight of the head. Sometime the teeth may communicate with the sinus leading to a perforation during the procedure. If this does occur, your dentist can repair it or may referral you to someone who can.
The risks are water running between the nose and mouth such as when drinking with a straw. This can usually be repaired though.
Other risks include damage to the adjacent teeth, pain, bleeding, bruising, swelling and infection.
While the complications are very rare, If you are uncomfortable with any of these risks then bring this up to your doctor.