For many years, removing the wisdom teeth of a teenager or young adult was considered to be a routine part of transitioning into adulthood. Many find themselves parting with their pearly whites before they’ve even had an opportunity to emerge. Now, some oral health experts are becoming opposed to the automatic removal of wisdom teeth, instead opting to keep a watchful eye on their development.
Between the ages of 17 and 25, the four teeth in the very back of the mouth, referred to as the “wisdom teeth” or “third molars”, begin to shift. When the teeth start to push through the gums, there is a chance that they will grow in at an angle only or only partially emerge. If this happens, the teeth need to be removed in order to avoid infection. However, this isn’t how it plays out in every situation. In some young adults, the teeth grow properly and the surrounding gum tissue remains normal.
The pros of removal
The third molars have a reputation for behaving in an unpredictable manner. As time goes on, wisdom teeth can change position, which leads to complications. In some cases, the third molars put pressure on, and crowd surrounding teeth. When this happens, there is risk that an individual will have adjacent molars damaged, develop gum disease, or even grow cysts that can develop into non-cancerous tumors. In other cases, individuals need to have emergency dental surgery to relieve intense oral pain.
Ultimately, having the third molars pulled can prevent more serious oral health complications down the road.
The cons of removal
Some oral health experts recommend close monitoring of the wisdom teeth instead of extraction. They liken the removal of healthy wisdom teeth to the removal of a healthy appendix. Yes, a burst appendix causes severe complications. However, unless there is evidence it will rupture, going under the knife prophylactically is ultimately unwarranted.
The same goes for your teeth! Even a simple surgery carries risks, so if you don’t have to put yourself through it, you shouldn’t. When wisdom teeth grow in without incident, it may be a better option to opt to keep them.
To pull or not to pull
At the end of the day, choosing whether or not to remove wisdom teeth is a simple decision—if the teeth are troublesome, get rid of them; if they aren’t, leave them in. Only a skilled dentist can give you an accurate scope of your oral health, so when determining whether or not to keep those pearly whites, make an appointment at your local dental office!