To pull or not to pull your wisdom teeth, that is the question. While many believe that wisdom teeth removal is a necessity, that’s not always the case.
In fact, whether or not you need to have your chompers pulled depends on several factors including formation, position, and overall health of the tooth.
You may be asking yourself, ‘Then why did my dentist suggest having them pulled?’ According to experts, this suggestion is based on age-old assumptions that once fully formed, wisdom teeth can cause serious problems.
Dr. Cherae Farmer-Dixon, DDS, MSPH, dean and professor of Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, typically tells her patients, “If the wisdom teeth are not bothering you, don’t bother them.”
Of course, “not bothering you” must be put into context Dr. Farmer-Dixon cautions. It’s possible, she explained during a recent interview with BlackDoctor.org (below), “They could not be bothering you, but because of how they’re positioned over time they could have bone resorption and cause problems down the road.” Dental x-rays are the only way to know what’s really going on with your wisdom teeth.
In order to understand the purpose of wisdom teeth removal, you need to understand the problems that can accompany the formation of wisdom teeth, like overcrowding in the mouth, partial formations (creating a prime place for bacteria to flourish), cysts and chronic pain.
You should consider having your wisdom teeth pulled when:
Your wisdom teeth don’t fit in your mouth.
Most adults have room in their mouth for about 28 teeth before their wisdom teeth erupt. Add four wisdom teeth and there are now 32 teeth competing for space in your mouth.
If your jaw isn’t large enough, the wisdom teeth can become impacted, which results in one of two things. One, they are either unable to fully form, or two, they become misaligned. In this case, having your wisdom teeth pulled will ensure all your teeth sit well in your jaw.
RELATED: Be Smart About Your Wisdom Teeth
Your wisdom teeth don’t come in straight.
For some, your wisdom teeth may come in fully, but they form horizontally. This can cause pressure on neighboring teeth, eventually causing your teeth to shift and move over time.
Other times, teeth may only partially come in. When this happens, a pathway is created between your teeth and gums making it difficult to brush. This area quickly becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to tooth decay.
Often chronic pain is an underlying sign of an infection like cysts forming around