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4 signs it's time for your wisdom teeth to go

Posted March 7

On certain occasions, wisdom teeth become impacted or unable to surface. The result is the teeth embed in your jawbone, causing pain and a host of other issues.

This story was written for our sponsor, North Carolina Dental Society.

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars to appear in adulthood, usually making their debut between ages 17 and 21, hence the name "wisdom teeth."

Although not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed, the lateness of their arrival and placement far back in the mouth can cause problems.

Wisdom teeth removal is a normal procedure done on countless people to help them prevent common problems like:

  • Mouth pain and discomfort, especially when chewing
  • Infection of the surrounding gums
  • Permanent damage to neighboring teeth, due to lack of space
  • Tooth decay from ruptured wisdom teeth being difficult to brush

Most of these problems can be avoided simply by watching for these four signs your wisdom teeth are coming in and may require removal:

1. A tooth becomes impacted

On certain occasions, wisdom teeth become impacted or unable to surface. The result is the teeth embed in your jawbone, causing pain and a host of other issues.

If you start to notice problems while chewing or any type of jaw discomfort, regardless of the exact cause, let your dentist know.

2. Crowding of teeth

Dr. Nazir Ahmad, with Capital Oral and Facial Surgery in Raleigh, explained one of the first signs of wisdom teeth "is the crowding and aching of existing teeth or the lower jaw."

"Because many adults don't have room in their mouths for another set of molars, the wisdom teeth begin to push other teeth forward or sideways, causing a persistent ache," Ahmad said.

To keep your teeth straight and free of damage, talk to your dentist about wisdom teeth removal.

3. Gum infection and disease

Because wisdom teeth are large and far back in the mouth, there's often little space for them to rupture. This can cause persistent gum tenderness, and without removal, your gums may become infected.

Periodontal disease is also a common concern with impacted wisdom teeth. In rare cases, cysts and tumors can even develop.

4. Damage to surrounding teeth

Even if you had braces already, wisdom teeth can cause your entire mouth to change.

A troublesome wisdom tooth will push the others out of alignment and encroach the space of healthy teeth. This pressure on the other teeth can cause damage to enamel, past dental work and overall alignment.

"The growth of wisdom teeth in late teens and early 20s is mostly predictable. How they will interact with the surrounding teeth is not," Ahmad pointed out. "Having a dentist take an X-ray to evaluate how they are growing in can prevent a world of hurt and expensive damage to existing permanent teeth."

As for the removal, the procedure is simple, in most cases.

If you are between 17 and 25, now is the perfect time to ask your dentist about wisdom teeth removal. The earlier any problem teeth are identified, the fewer issues they will be able to inflict.

This story was written for our sponsor, North Carolina Dental Society.

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