Short answer: it depends.
Some lucky people have enough room in their mouth so their wisdom teeth come in fully, are correctly positioned, and are able to be cleaned. But for the rest of us, wisdom teeth can cause all sorts of problems.
How Do Wisdom Teeth Typically Come In?
Each individual wisdom teeth can either fully come in, never erupt from the gums (aka “impacted”), or they can partially erupt.
Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?
No. A small percentage of people never develop wisdom teeth. Do not confuse impacted wisdom teeth with not having wisdom teeth however.
What Types of Problems Can Wisdom Teeth Cause?
An impacted wisdom tooth that doesn’t emerge from the gums can develop a cyst which can damage the gum tissue, tooth roots, and even the jaw bone which helps support teeth.
A partially erupted tooth can lead to a bacterial infection called pericoronitis. This causes the gums that partially cover the wisdom tooth to become swollen and infected.
A wisdom tooth that comes in crooked can damage the nearby teeth and throw off the alignment of your bite.
Also, the risk of getting cavities and gum disease in the rear of your mouth is much higher.
When Should I Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
After a dentist has viewed an x-ray of your wisdom teeth and made the recommendation to see a surgeon. Generally, it’s a good idea to get the procedure done earlier in life because the roots and bone are not fully developed. Plus your recovery time is quicker when you’re younger.
Here are some additional warning signs that should prompt you to ask your dentist about the status of your wisdom teeth:
– Repeated infection of soft tissue behind the lower last tooth
– Fluid-filled sacs (cysts)
– Damage to nearby teeth
– Gum disease
– Extensive tooth decay
Is It Painful to Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
It shouldn’t be with anesthesia. You should notify the dentist if you feel any sharp pain.
What Questions Should I Ask My Dentist?
– Do all of my wisdom teeth need to be removed?
– What are my options for anesthesia?
– What complications do you expect to see during the procedure? What is the worst case scenario?
– Compared to all of the other cases you have done, how does my case rank in terms of difficulty?
– What are the risks of doing this surgery?
– Will my face get puffy? How long will it be until my appearance is normal and I can return to school or work?
– What will happen if I leave my wisdom teeth in?
Any Tips for the Day of the Surgery?
– Bring a blanket to stay comfortable
– Take a valium to calm down
– Focus on your breathing
– Bring some emotional support
– Wear comfortable clothes
– Wear noise-cancelling headphones