Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
This is a question that my patients frequently ask, and my answer is always the same, "It depends." The development of wisdom teeth need to be checked during regular exams with dental x-rays to determine whether there is enough space for them to erupt through the gum or if they should be removed.
Third molars are the last teeth to erupt and usually appear between the ages of 17 and 21 but can begin causing problems as early as age 13. The teeth do not always have enough space at the back of the lower and upper jaw and develop at an angle causing the tooth to jam and become impacted. When this happens, a cyst can form in the tissue surrounding the tooth causing deterioration of the jawbone or the tooth in front.
Sometimes the wisdom teeth only partially erupt and become prone to recurrent infection and decay. This condition can lead to swelling, pain and difficulty opening the jaw. The development of wisdom teeth can be painful and is often associated with sore throats, headaches and gum infections.
As a general recommendation, usually if you are under 25 years of age you may want to consider removing your wisdom teeth before they cause you any discomfort. As you approach/exceed 30 years of age it is more routinely done as needed due to swelling, discomfort, infection.