Most individuals undergo wisdom teeth removal in their teens or early 20s. Wisdom teeth have a strong potential for causing complications, such as impaction. However, in some cases, a dentist may have advised the patient that extraction was unnecessary. Years or decades afterward, the wisdom teeth may begin to cause problems. If your wisdom teeth have become symptomatic, then it’s not too late to get them extracted. However, every person’s medical status is unique. You should consult an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon for personalized guidance.
Why it’s preferable to remove wisdom teeth earlier in life
Between the ages of 15 and 25, when most patients have their wisdom teeth removed, the roots of the wisdom teeth haven’t yet had time to fully form. Since the teeth aren’t firmly anchored in place, it’s easiest to remove them at this time. The surgery is less complicated and the recovery time is relatively short. Tooth extraction earlier in life also reduces the risk of damage to nearby nerves. In short, wisdom teeth extraction earlier in life is preferable because the outcome is generally more predictable and favorable.
Is it too late to get my wisdom teeth out?
Although it’s preferable to extract the wisdom teeth before age 25, it can still be done later in life. Older adults may require wisdom tooth removal because the tooth has become impacted or infected. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that lacks sufficient space to erupt normally from the gums. An impacted wisdom tooth may cause pain and damage to the nearby teeth. It will also be difficult to keep clean, which increases the risk of secondary complications. For example, an impacted wisdom tooth that damages other teeth or causes an infection can result in the following symptoms:
- Jaw swelling
- Jaw pain
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Persistent bad breath
It’s possible for an impacted wisdom tooth to result in other complications, such as the development of a cyst. Dental cysts can be painful, and may damage the teeth, jawbone, and nerves. An increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease is another potential outcome of an impacted wisdom tooth.
How you can protect your health during and after an extraction
For your own safety, it’s always preferable to choose a fully qualified oral surgeon to perform any oral surgeries. This is particularly important when you’re an older adult who expects to have wisdom tooth extraction. Since the root of the wisdom tooth is fully formed, performing the surgery properly requires specialized skills.
In addition to choosing a skilled oral surgeon, you can protect yourself by disclosing your full medical history. Your oral surgeon needs to know about any pre-existing medical conditions you have, and medications or supplements you’re taking. For younger people, it may take about three to four days to fully recover from wisdom tooth extraction. Older adults should plan to take a full week to allow for the recovery. Your own recovery timeline may vary; consult your oral surgeon for personalized recommendations.
Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery is your complete source for trustworthy medical information, personalized guidance, and compassionate treatments for restoring your smile. Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons have undergone extensive training, which means you can rest assured knowing that you’re in good hands. From wisdom teeth removal to dental implants and more, you can receive a complete spectrum of oral surgery care at our oral surgery offices in Newtown and Feasterville, PA. Call our award-winning practice serving Bucks County at 215-322-7810.
Additional resources about wisdom teeth:
- Mayo Clinic, Wisdom Tooth Extraction, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/wisdom-tooth-extraction/about/pac-20395268
- Cleveland Clinic, Do Your Wisdom Teeth Really Have to Come Out? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/qa-is-it-always-best-to-have-your-wisdom-teeth-removed/