Many patients and parents of patients ask, “When is the best time to have wisdom teeth removed?” Most dental professionals recommend removing third molars before they are fully developed, which is as early as age 12 in some patients. Doctors today can often determine whether your wisdom teeth will cause problems for your overall health before they ever grow in. The best way to proactively defend the oral health problems caused by third molars is through early detection. That is why it is extremely important for you to ensure that you receive regular dental exams each year—especially around the early and mid-teen years. X-rays or other imaging techniques are the only way to detect these teeth before they emerge from the gums and start to cause problems.
At Indianapolis Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center, Dr. Lawrence Falender is able to comprehensively evaluate the condition of your wisdom teeth and if wisdom tooth removal is needed, Dr. Falender will completely customize your treatment.
In general, the need to remove wisdom teeth can be determined by the following categorizations:
Patients who present with a complaint of pain and/or swelling, or have bad breath (halitosis). Typically, the patient will have a decayed wisdom tooth and/or infected soft tissue (pericoronitis) surrounding the wisdom tooth. They often have difficulty opening their mouth and their face and or neck may be swollen. The pain may increase when biting as well. In more advanced scenarios fever may be present along with difficulty swallowing.
Silent Problem Group:
This group includes patients who have a situation that they are not aware of such as decay (cavities/caries) or periodontal disease (gum disease) that are silent or dormant. Possibly, although rarely, they may have a localized cyst or tumor. These patients are typically identified on a routine examination.
This group of patients is the classic group of 16- 25 year olds in whom impacted wisdom teeth during routine radiographic work up and specific exams. Often, but not always, they will have undergone orthodontic treatment. The removal of wisdom teeth is generally beneficial to prevent the onset of pain, infection, periodontal disease (periodontitis) and caries (decay, cavities). Surgical removal of impacted wisdom teeth in this group is often the easiest with the quickest recovery and least amount of risk.
It’s not necessary for you to get your wisdom teeth removed if they are correctly positioned in your mouth and do not cause any pain or dental problems. If they are impacted and/or cause crowding in your teeth, a dentist will recommend that you have them removed. There are two ways wisdom teeth may grow.
- Some will grow in like regular teeth and
- Some will become impacted.
Impacted wisdom teeth are blocked from growing properly. They typically remain below the surface of your gum line and lie horizontally instead of standing upright like they are supposed to, mostly because there isn’t enough room for them to grow. Sometimes they sprout out sideways and towards another tooth. Keeping an impacted wisdom tooth that slightly sprouts can be difficult to keep because it can be a place for plaque and bacteria to accumulate. This is bad because it would promote the development of cavities and could lead to a much larger infection affecting more than just your teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth can possibly collide with the roots of your molars and that can be extremely painful. In addition, while your impacted wisdom tooth is trying to erupt, the wisdom tooth itself can wear down the adjacent tooth and lead to several dental issues. If you decide not to remove your wisdom teeth, be sure to floss your teeth on a consistent basis, getting all the way to the back teeth. And be sure to use fluoridated mouth wash.
What If They Have Grown in and Don’t Hurt?
If this is the case, the decision is up to you. Wisdom teeth that cause minimal crowding and don’t hurt are fine to keep, but a lot of dentists will recommend that they be removed. Why? They are very susceptible to cavities and are not easily cleansable. If your wisdom teeth have cavities and you cannot clean them due to their location, filling the cavities is unwise because you’ll continue to develop more cavities. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to remove the wisdom teeth altogether.
When Should You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
There is no “correct age” for wisdom tooth removal. Some people get their wisdom teeth at a young age, while some others get them in adulthood. But if you need to remove wisdom teeth, it would be better to take them out younger because the healing process would be a bit quicker. However, if you’re in your 40s with all your wisdom teeth and they cause no oral health complications, taking them out is not necessary. If you’re unsure, you should see a dentist to get a proper wisdom tooth examination and treatment plan.
Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Painful?
No, it shouldn’t be. With proper anesthesia, you should only feel pressure/pushing, not pain. If you do feel any sort of “sharpness”, or pain, let your dentist know that you’re not fully numb.
Some People Don’t Have Wisdom Teeth
Don’t worry if you don’t have wisdom teeth. Some people just don’t grow them.
As an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Falender has years of training and experience extracting wisdom teeth at all stages of development. Even if your wisdom teeth are fully grown in, we can schedule an oral examination to find out if your wisdom teeth require removal. Please contact our office in Indianapolis, IN, to schedule your consultation with one of our friendly team members!