|Dr. Benjamin Coon, D.D.S.|
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. If they grow in with proper alignment, wisdom teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal.
Wisdom teeth present potential problems when they are misaligned - they can position themselves horizontally, be angled toward or away from the second molars or be angled inward or outward. Poor alignment of wisdom teeth can crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or nerves. Wisdom teeth that lean toward the second molars make those teeth more vulnerable to decay by entrapping plaque and debris. In addition, wisdom teeth can be entrapped completely within the soft tissue and/or the jawbone or only partially break through or erupt through the gum. Teeth that remain partially or completely entrapped within the soft tissue and /or the jawbone are termed "impacted."
As part of a dental visit, your dentist will examine you to determine if your wisdom teeth are healthy and properly positioned. Based on the condition of your mouth, your dentist may recommend removal of one or all of your wisdom teeth in the office under a local anesthetic, or refer you to an oral surgeon for a procedure under general anesthesia.
Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:
- Damage to adjacent teeth
- Gum disease, and
- Tooth decay, especially if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth.
In addition, the condition of your mouth changes over time. Wisdom teeth that are not removed should continue to be monitored, because the potential for developing problems later on still exists. As with many other health conditions, as people age, they are at greater risk for health problems and that includes potential problems with their wisdom teeth.
Regular dental visits are important, and we generally recommend visits twice per year. Your dentist can evaluate not just your wisdom teeth but your overall oral health to help you prevent and manage dental disease and achieve optimal oral health.
Dr. Benjamin Coon, D.D.S.
Glenwood Meadows Dental
40 Market Street, Suite A
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601