Wisdom teeth are often recommended for removal by dental professionals. However, it may not always be necessary to remove them, as properly erupted wisdom teeth can actually provide benefits to oral and overall health.
In fact, one of the main reasons why experts now say not to remove your wisdom teeth is because they can provide support in the back of the mouth and help maintain bone in the jaw, which is beneficial to the health of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
While wisdom tooth extraction is often done as a preventive measure, it is important to discuss the pros and cons with your dentist to determine the best course of action for your wisdom teeth.
Generally, you dentist may recommend that they stay in place if they meet the following criteria:
- They are healthy
- They have fully erupted
- They are in the proper position and fit well with the opposing teeth
- They can be cleaned effectively as part of regular oral hygiene routines.
Here are some advantages of keeping your wisdom teeth:
Benefits of wisdom teeth
Eliminates the need for oral surgery
One of the benefits of keeping wisdom teeth is that if they are not causing any problems, there is no need for surgery to remove them. Wisdom teeth removal is a surgical procedure that involves cutting into the gums and removing the teeth from the jawbone.
As with any surgery, there are risks involved, such as bleeding, infection, nerve damage, and swelling. These risks can be minimized by choosing an experienced and qualified oral surgeon and following post-operative instructions carefully. However, avoiding surgery altogether is always a better option when it is not necessary.
Support for the Back of the Mouth
Properly erupted wisdom teeth provide support in the back of the mouth (jaw bone and neighboring teeth), which can help maintain the overall structure of the mouth and prevent shifting of teeth. This support is also beneficial to the health of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Maintain Bone in the Jaw
Teeth play an important role in maintaining the density and strength of the jawbone. When teeth are removed, the bone may start to shrink or weaken due to lack of stimulation.
Keeping wisdom teeth can help maintain the bone in the jaw and prevent bone loss. The pressure from the wisdom teeth against adjacent teeth can stimulate bone growth, which is beneficial in preventing bone loss in the jaw.
Natural Chewing Function
Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to emerge, and they play a crucial role in the natural chewing function. By keeping them, these teeth can serve as extra molars to help with chewing and grinding food, especially tough and fibrous foods.
Prevent premature teeth wear
The molars in the back of the mouth are responsible for grinding and chewing hard foods, and wisdom teeth can help relieve some of the pressure on other teeth.
By keeping these teeth, you can help to minimize molar tooth wear. This is because they provide additional support to the back of the mouth, which helps to distribute the pressure of chewing more evenly across all the molars. Without wisdom teeth, the molars may experience more force and wear down more quickly.
Caring for wisdom teeth
If you want to keep your wisdom teeth, it is important to take good care of them. Here are some tips on how to care for your wisdom teeth:
- Brush and floss regularly: Just like your other teeth, it is important to brush your wisdom teeth at least twice a day and floss them once a day. This will help to remove any food particles and plaque that can lead to decay.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash: An antiseptic mouthwash can help to kill any bacteria that may be present in your mouth, reducing the risk of infection.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental checkups are essential for the health of your teeth, including your wisdom teeth. Your dentist can monitor your wisdom teeth and detect any problems early on.
- Consider orthodontic treatment: If your wisdom teeth are causing crowding or other issues with your bite, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct the problem.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure the optimal health of your wisdom teeth and avoid the need for surgery in the future.
Signs of wisdom teeth removal
Despite the benefits, wisdom teeth can cause problems when they do not have enough room to grow properly, necessitating removal.
Here are some signs to watch out for if you’re still considering the pros and cons of wisdom teeth removal:
- Pain and Discomfort: Pain or discomfort in the back of your mouth can be a sign of wisdom teeth problems. This can be caused by pressure from the wisdom teeth pushing against adjacent teeth or by the teeth growing in at an awkward angle.
- Swollen Gums: Swelling or inflammation in the gums around the back of your mouth can be a sign of impacted wisdom teeth, which can lead to infections and abscesses.
- Difficulty Opening Mouth: Impacted wisdom teeth can make it difficult to open your mouth wide or even cause jaw stiffness or pain.
- Bad Breath or Taste: Impacted wisdom teeth can cause bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth due to bacterial growth in the area.
- Crowding or Shifting Teeth: Wisdom teeth can push against adjacent teeth and cause them to become crowded or shift position, which can impact your bite and overall oral health.
- Cavities or Gum Disease: Wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean properly, leading to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease in the surrounding teeth and gums.
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, it is important to see a dentist or oral surgeon for an evaluation. They can help determine if you should get your wisdom teeth removed to prevent further problems and preserve your oral health.
It is important to note, however, that not all wisdom teeth are suitable for retention. If they are impacted, infected, or causing damage to surrounding teeth or gums, they may need to be removed to prevent further complications.
Therefore, it is essential to consult with a dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best course of action for each individual case. In case you start experiencing discomfort or severe pain from the growth of your wisdom teeth, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible.
During the consultation, the dentist will check your teeth and advice you on whether or not extraction is necessary. Before extraction, an X-ray of your mouth is necessary to provide a better view of the position of your teeth.