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Wisdom Tooth: Keep it or Remove it? Decide wisely!

Most of us are very familiar with the word, wisdom tooth, "budhi bangara". Even though there is no relation between wisdom and wisdom teeth, one has to use his/her wisdom to avoid future hassles. The term wisdom tooth refers to the third molar, last one to erupt. It usually appears in young adults between the ages of 17 and 25. Most people do not have enough room in their mouth to accommodate their wisdom teeth.  So they can cause pain, swelling, infection, and crookedness of the remaining teeth.  When there is not enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt, they are referred to as impacted wisdom teeth. 

A commonly asked question is, "Why do we have wisdom teeth if there is no room in the jaws for them?"  The reason why wisdom teeth can be impacted is not an easy question to answer. The primary cause of wisdom tooth impaction is simply that there is inadequate jawbone space behind the person's second molar (the second molar comes in and is already positioned some years before the wisdom teeth erupt). Why this lack of space exists is not fully understood yet.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Removal of wisdom teeth is a common procedure performed by dental surgeons. There is currently no totally accurate way to predict which wisdom teeth will cause problems and which won't.

Usually one removes his wisdom teeth when he/she suffers from them. If wisdom teeth come out properly in its space, it might not cause any problem to the individual. But when there is no room for wisdom teeth to come in properly or when the teeth haven't reached their permanent location by age 25, then they're considered to be impacted. In those cases, wisdom teeth try to come out in a direction where they find space. So the teeth come out in any direction (angular, horizontal or vertical) completely or partially forming a space difficult to maintain daily oral hygiene causing infection. Pain, swelling, difficulty in opening of the mouth are the common symptoms that are caused by the infection.

Another main reason of wisdom teeth removal is that it can cause damage to the adjacent teeth, "second molar". To protect second molar from decay and damage, wisdom teeth are sometimes advised to remove as early as possible even if one has no symptomatic problem.

However some impacted teeth might not cause any problem through out the life. It is generally suggested that teeth that remain completely buried or un-erupted in a normal position are unlikely to cause harm.
There remains a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not these teeth need to be removed without causing any problem. However, if these impacted teeth are in an abnormal position, their potential for harm should be assessed. An X-ray is needed to evaluate the need of teeth removal.

Preventive Measures:

  • If you have partially erupted wisdom tooth in your mouth, be sure bristles of your tooth brush is reaching there.
  • If you smell any foul smell coming from your mouth, gargle with warm saline water or with a mouthwash. If needed, visit to a dentist.
  • Ask the dentist to make an evaluation and suggest the best course of action.

Some facts: 

  • Removing wisdom teeth is easier in younger people because the tooth roots are not fully developed and the bone in which the teeth sit is less dense.
  • Extracting your wisdom teeth before any complications develop also allows for shorter recovery time and less discomfort after the surgery.
  • An impacted wisdom tooth can cause damage to the tooth in front of it.
  • Removal of the impacted wisdom teeth can cause some complications as swelling, bleeding, pain etc. These complications usually disappear with in a week.

Conclusion: 

An oral surgeon or your dentist can provide guidance whether you're a candidate for wisdom teeth removal (extraction). The bottom line is that wisdom teeth most often don't fit well in our mouths and they can cause other teeth to move or lead to gum disease or bone problems. Ask your dentist to find the best option for you.

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Heritage Plaza II, Kamaladi, Kathmandu, Nepal.
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