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Should you have your wisdom teeth removed?

I have been asked this question many times and now I think it would be a good idea to clarify the wisdom tooth dilemma in my latest blog.

What is a wisdom tooth?

Most children have all of their adult teeth by the age of 12. However, the wisdom teeth don’t erupt until the age of between 18-22 years. Around 35% of adults don’t have wisdom teeth and the rest of us go through the wisdom teeth eruption process between 18-22.

What is the problem with wisdom teeth?

Most people don’t have any problems with wisdom teeth. The tooth erupts in the same way as the rest of your adult teeth did as a child.

Wisdom teeth start to erupt after 18 years of age and by this time your body has usually stopped growing. In some people the mouth is too small to accommodate another set of teeth to fully erupt. This explains why some wisdom teeth erupt at an angle. We call this impacted wisdom teeth.

This is usually not a problem. The wisdom teeth themselves are healthy teeth. The problem occurs when the gum around the impacted wisdom teeth is not cleaned thoroughly enough. When plaque and bacteria accumulate around these teeth, it causes the gum to become inflamed. This results in a problem called pericoronitis. This is the most common reason patients come to see me with ‘painful’ wisdom teeth. It is easily treated with antibiotics and cleaning the area.

Prevention is key

Learning how to routinely keep this area of you mouth clean is essential in order to keep your wisdom teeth healthy and problem free. Simply take time to reach those hard to reach corners at the back of your mouth with your toothbrush and regularly use mouthwash. These simple methods should help prevent bacteria accumulation around your wisdom teeth.

In most cases, an impacted wisdom tooth can be kept healthy for life with good cleaning. In some rarer cases we need to remove these teeth. We can assess this clinically at the dental practice.

After all, I had 2 impacted wisdom teeth. One has been removed and one I have kept.

  • Mohsin Patel BDS MJDF RCS (Eng)

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