Third molars are more commonly known as wisdom teeth. There are normally four of these teeth that erupt during the late teens or early twenties. They are located at the very back of the mouth, one in each quadrant.
By the time wisdom teeth come in, the individual has achieved bone maturity and jaw space has been determined. If there is insufficient space for these teeth to erupt, wisdom tooth extraction is often recommended. Without treatment, there are different scenarios that could occur:
Malocclusion: When these teeth emerge and lack the jaw space to come in correctly, the result can be an over bite, under bite, or cross bite. As wisdom teeth erupt, they can push teeth over to make room. This can interfere with the bite making teeth protrude or push inward. Areas in the mouth due to crooked or misshapen teeth are ideal places for plaque to build.
Gum Disease: Partially erupted or impacted teeth can lead to infection and/or gum disease. An impacted tooth can’t come in correctly when it is blocked by bone, another tooth, or soft oral tissue. An impacted tooth is a common occurrence with third molars.
Patients that regularly see their dentist are probably going to be aware of the potential problems associated with wisdom teeth. Your dental provider will be watching for these teeth to emerge; if there is concern about teeth being impacted, x-rays will be taken. If no problems are anticipated, you and your dentist may take a wait and see approach.
But for many patients, the indication is clear that removal of the third molars is the best option to prevent teeth overcrowding, discomfort from impacted teeth, and to reduce the risk of gum disease due to plaque build-up.
Your dental provider sees many of these cases on a regular basis so the procedure to extract wisdom teeth is considered very standard. The patient is anesthetized, teeth removed, and patient is released to go home to rest the remainder of the day.
Failure to have problematic third molars extracted can lead to swelling, discomfort, infection, and gum disease. Your dentist is your best resource when faced with how to handle wisdom teeth removal to reduce risk of infection and gum disease.
To learn more about wisdom tooth extraction or to schedule an evaluation, contact The Dental Place at 972-264-5795.