Is It Harmful to Delay Wisdom Teeth Removal?
The extraction of the wisdom teeth often isn’t an emergency surgery, simply because dentists evaluate the course of their progression and can spot potential problems well in advance. However, if you delay getting them taken out, you could indeed develop serious complications. Pain, soreness, and pressure in the area are often the first signs that there is a problem.
Wisdom Tooth Impaction
People often wonder why humans have wisdom teeth if they have to be removed. If humans evolved with wisdom teeth, doesn’t that mean they should stay in? It’s an interesting question that points to the differences between ancient humans and modern ones. Early humans needed those extra molars to cope with their primitive diets. Modern humans don’t need wisdom teeth, thanks to cooking techniques and eating utensils. Some anthropologists think it’s possible that humans are in the midst of evolving in a way that eliminates the wisdom teeth, as some people are born without them. But until that change is complete, wisdom teeth often need to be extracted, and delaying their extraction can cause serious problems like impaction.
Wisdom tooth impaction occurs when there isn’t enough space for the teeth to erupt properly. As a result, they stay partially or completely beneath the gum line. Neither of these situations is ideal. If a wisdom tooth partially erupts, there will be a partially open gum flap. Food debris and bacteria can get trapped within that flap, leading to an infection. Tooth decay is also more likely to occur, as the tooth is exposed to oral bacteria.
Damage to Adjacent Teeth
Wisdom teeth often erupt abnormally, and sometimes, they press into the second molars. This can inflict damage on the adjacent molars. The adjacent teeth may also become misaligned, which affects the bite pattern. When the bite pattern becomes abnormal, excessive stress is exerted on the muscles and joints of the jaw. This malocclusion may require orthodontic treatment to correct.
A sac surrounds the wisdom tooth inside the jaw bone. If the wisdom tooth isn’t extracted, this sac can become filled with fluid and form a cyst. Jaw cysts can be very painful. They can also cause damage to the jaw bone, teeth, and nearby nerves. Eventually, the bone around the cyst can be destroyed. In order to treat this complication, the oral surgeon may need to remove some tissue and bone.
Pericoronitis is another potential complication that can occur when the wisdom teeth aren’t extracted in a timely manner. It’s a disease of the gum tissue. The gum tissue around the area becomes infected and inflamed, causing pain and a bad taste in the mouth. Some people experience difficulty opening the mouth, along with swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
These complications can be quite severe, but you can avoid them by getting your wisdom teeth extracted promptly when your dentist recommends it.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction in Feasterville-Trevose, Newtown, and Abington, PA
For over 50 years, Pennsylvanians have turned to the team at Innovative Oral Surgery & Dental Implants. Your health and safety are our top priorities during any oral surgery. When it’s time to get your wisdom teeth removed, you can trust the skill and experience of our highly trained oral surgeons. You can schedule a consultation in Feasterville-Trevose, Newtown, or Abington, PA by calling our friendly office staff.
Additional Resources on Wisdom Teeth:
- American Dental Association, Wisdom Teeth, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/wisdom-teeth
- Colgate, What Is a Wisdom Tooth? https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/wisdom-teeth/what-is-a-wisdom-tooth-0415