Removing third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, is an often necessary dental procedure as a preventive measure. Taking steps to have your wisdom teeth removed in early adulthood can ease a larger potential problem in later adulthood. At PDX Center for Dentistry, we can evaluate your wisdom teeth, make predictions based on their positioning, and if they are impacted, to help navigate your decision on having them removed. If we find that removing your wisdom teeth is necessary, Samuel Seo, DMD can then direct you to an oral surgeon.
The Third Molar
The last set of teeth to erupt is the third molar, which is how it got its nickname, wisdom teeth. Science tells us that the third molar was needed for our earlier ancestors, who had a much different diet than we do today. There is also supporting information that the size of the jawbone has decreased in size, this may also be due to the changes in diet and the use of modern tools such as spoons and forks. Most dentists now agree that the third molar is unnecessary and in fact can be the source of considerable damage if left in place due to insufficient space. Today, studies tell us that 85% of people have their wisdom teeth removed. The longer you wait for young adulthood to have them removed can have serious repercussions.
The Best Time to Remove Wisdom Teeth
At PDX Center for Dentistry, we tell our patients that the best time to have their third molars removed is in young adulthood, between the ages of 17 and 25. This very specific timing has reasons. The surgeon looks for that period that the third molar has grown enough to be able to clamp onto the tooth for removal, but not so long that the root has had the time to grow long and form a hook shape, making it much more difficult and painful to remove. Having your wisdom teeth removed before it has had time to decay or push neighboring teeth is also ideal.
The Problem With Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth have demonstrated that they can be problematic. The most common problem for wisdom teeth is the lack of space. Most patients do not have enough room for the third molars to fully erupt. This can lead to the tooth twisting, only partially erupting, being fully impacted, or pushing neighboring teeth out of alignment. Teeth that are unable to erupt fully are subject to decay. Food particles and bacteria can slip between the tooth and soft gum tissue causing infection. They are also subject to higher decay due to their distance, patients can miss spots when brushing and flossing. Cavities in wisdom teeth can be painful and problematic because they are difficult, if not impossible, to get access to. The best course of action is their removal. Removing wisdom teeth for patients over 35 years of age can lead to complications and considerably more pain. As the root extends and forms a hook, they are much more difficult to pull, and often require surgical extraction. Surgical extractions increase the chances for bleeding issues and can take much longer to recover from. Samuel Seo, DMD would advise patients to avoid waiting this long. For more information on wisdom teeth, and how your wisdom teeth are developing, contact PDX Center for Dentistry. We can review your third molars and provide you with more information that is specific to your needs. For questions or to schedule an appointment, contact our office at our Portland location. (503) 546-9079