If you are like most adults, you probably had your wisdom teeth removed sometime in your teens or early 20s. There are a lot of extremely sound reasons to remove this final set of molars, but lately some “experts” have started sounding the alarm about wisdom tooth removal.
There have been a lot of articles online – mostly on blogs rather than in peer-reviewed dental publications – suggesting that the whole wisdom-tooth-removal concept is basically a way for oral surgeons to make extra money. This is a tempting perspective on the subject for anyone who has not yet had these teeth removed or who is about to have a dependent’s wisdom teeth removed. After all, wouldn’t we all rather have fewer oral surgeries?
However, just making a tempting argument is not a good enough reason to forego having these teeth removed. Here, we break down the deal with why some people elect to keep their wisdom teeth and what they must do to keep their mouth healthy when they do so.
You Can’t Keep Your Wisdom Teeth If They Are Infected
But how will I know if they’re infected? Long before you have a huge problem on your hands your dentist will probably see that your wisdom teeth are collecting too much plaque or food material in between visits. They may even see the beginnings of some cavities or signs of an infection.
Since wisdom teeth are very difficult to clean for most people, this does not mean that you did a bad job of brushing. It just means that you probably can’t get to your wisdom teeth and you could have an issue in the future. If your wisdom teeth are always clean and there is no infection in your gums, you might be able to keep all that wisdom in your mouth!
Regular Dental Visits Will Be Vital
Of course, regular dental visits were already vital to your oral health (and a lot of other aspects of your health) before you got your wisdom teeth! Now, though, it’s time to multiply that by 100 or more because wisdom teeth can cause huge problems if those infections, decay, and even cysts start to form and then are not treated quickly.
If you have not ever missed a dentist appointment in your life and you go twice a year, then it could work out for you to keep your wisdom teeth. However, if you visit the dentist sporadically or, as many patients admit, put off going to the dentist unless they simply can’t take the pain anymore, then you probably should have those teeth removed.
Uncertainty Is The Name Of The Game
Probably one of the strangest arguments we’ve ever heard against having your wisdom teeth out is that only about 1 in 10 people who still have their wisdom teeth have a cyst or tumor in their mouth that is associated with their wisdom teeth. Of course, 85 percent of people (so about 8 in 10 people) have had their wisdom teeth removed, so that changes that statistic just a little bit!
Removing wisdom teeth is, in the best scenario, what is known as a prophylactic measure to prevent serious oral health issues down the road. If you choose not to do it, then you could be just fine. But you won’t really know. A lot of this decision will come down to how you feel about the surgery, what your dentist can tell you about your specific wisdom teeth, and your oral health history and current condition.
Take the Time to Talk to an Expert
At the end of the day, it’s your oral health. You need to make the decisions that are right for you and will keep you healthy! Part of making good decisions that net you those types of results is talking to your oral health professional (your dentist!) and making an informed decision once you have all the information.