No two bodies grow exactly the same way. The ways in which we’re unique even extends to our teeth, and wisdom teeth are no exception. They can come in sideways, get trapped in the jaw or come in straight like any other tooth would. When you need a wisdom tooth extraction, how your tooth is positioned will determine what type of procedure you need.
Types of Wisdom Tooth Extraction
How your wisdom teeth are removed will depend on how they’re growing in. They can be straight up and down, sideways or even backwards. The biggest concern is impaction, meaning the tooth doesn’t fully erupt and is trapped.
- No Impaction: The crown of the tooth is above the jawbone and gum line.
- Soft Tissue Impaction: The tooth is covered by gum tissue. If it’s extensive, a “flap” is cut in the gum to expose the tooth and allow for extraction.
- Partial Bony Impaction: The tooth is partially exposed, but part of the crown is trapped below the gumline and in the jaw bone. An incision is made to expose the tooth, and a small amount of bone is shaved away until the tooth is exposed. The tooth is often cut in half along the crown and for easier removal.
- Complete Bony Impaction: The tooth is completely encased in the jaw bone. This is more common with sideways (horizontal) and backwards (distoangular) teeth. A “flap” is cut in the gum to expose the tooth, and the jaw bone is carefully shaved away until the tooth is exposed. The tooth will likely be cut into two or more pieces so they can be rocked out of place easily.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth So Problematic?
Anthropologists theorize that wisdom teeth are relics of our past. When our diet consisted of tougher foods like raw roots, nuts and leaves, having a third set of molars helped us crush the food and ease the wear on our teeth.
Over thousands of years, our diet got softer and our mouths got smaller. There’s less space in our mouths for a third, unnecessary row of teeth. When they try to come in, they can be forced into strange angles and get trapped beneath gum and bone. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that about 85% of people will need their wisdom teeth removed.
When Do They Come Out?
Wisdom teeth typically come in between the ages of 17 and 25. If you start experiencing issues or your dentist sees where they’re going to cause a problem in the future, it’s best to get them removed right away. Younger mouths are still settling into their adult shape and recover from surgery faster and have less chace of complications.
It’s possible for wisdom teeth to come in normally and not cause concerns for many years. Our mouths are active and shift as we age. You could develop a cavity, have your teeth shift into a more cramped position or develop an abscess due to bacterial build up. Wisdom tooth extraction is appropriate whenever the teeth are causing problems, even if you’re in your 50s before something hurts.
Do They Need To Come Out?
Not everyone will need to get their wisdom teeth removed. It’s possible for the teeth to come in just like any other and never be a cause for concern. The most common reasons your dentist will recommend extraction are:
- Tooth Damage: The pressure and awkward placement of impacted wisdom teeth can damage the teeth in front of them. Tooth decay, gum disease and even bone loss can occur.
- Nerve Pain: Mouths are tight spaces. If a wisdom tooth comes in at the wrong angle, it can easily become inflamed. The pain can be considerable.
- Infection: Your normal teeth have a rim of gum tissue around the bottom edge. Wisdom teeth often erupt with excess gum tissue covering too much of the tooth. Food and bacteria can get trapped under the tissue, leading to tooth decay and painful infection.
- Disease: In rare cases, impacted wisdom teeth can cause cysts or tumors in the surrounding tissues.
Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure that our oral surgeons are happy to help you through. To schedule your evaluation, call Gateway Oral Surgeons of St. Louis today.