Did you know that most people who experience problems with their wisdom teeth will do so between the ages of 15 and 25? This is because it is a time in life when the jawbone starts to become dense and when the roots of the teeth are not yet fully developed. The teeth will start to “erupt” and make their way downward from the rear part of the jawbone and then out through the gum tissue.
This is often the moment when people start to seriously consider wisdom teeth extraction because of the discomfort that all of these changes involve. There may be constant swelling of the gums, there can be headaches due to the pressure that is created by the teeth rubbing together, and there can be changes in the alignment of the teeth or natural bite and this might lead to all kinds of jaw and neck pain.
So, it seems natural that the very first thing to do is to schedule wisdom teeth extraction, but your dental expert will be the one to make the call. This is because there are some serious risks involved with the process of wisdom teeth extraction.
- Financial risks – If you have no medical insurance or no dental plan, you may have to pay for the procedure on an out of pocket basis. This may not be a medical “risk” per se, but it is something to consider;
- Health issues – If you are someone with pre-existing medical conditions, the wisdom teeth extraction procedure may put you at risk for complications. For instance, there are some instances of bacteria entering the bloodstream during the process. This may not harm many people, but in some instances, there could be severe complications from infection. If someone has a clotting condition it can be difficult and risky to remove the wisdom teeth as well;
- Nerves – One of the most challenging things to anticipate during wisdom teeth extraction is damage to nerves. Whether a nerve is actually injured during the process of removing a tooth or is irritated by localized swelling, a patient may experience a sense of numbness or total loss of sensation. Rarely is this a permanent condition, but it can take a long period of time for the swelling to fade and the nerves to return to normal;
- Dry socket – People with health conditions, heavy smokers, and women using oral contraceptives are at great risk for the condition known as dry socket. This is when the opening made to remove the tooth from the jaw will not heal. It can require extensive treatment and bring on infection. It is also something that can happen if the patient uses a straw or sucks on ice or candy in the days following the procedure, as this can cause the blood clot to become dislodged;
- Damage – Lastly, one of the biggest risks during wisdom teeth extraction is damage to nearby teeth and crowns. The process of extraction can be rough and this can cause a bit of trauma to teeth and the jaw.
Should you avoid wisdom tooth removal? No. If your dental expert says it has to happen, well…it has to happen. Don’t cause fear or some minor risks to prevent you from getting the kind of care you require. Oral surgeons are well aware of the ways to reduce risk and identify potential problems, and will always alert you to any issues and take all of the necessary measures to prevent them.
Dr. Jack Smith is a renowned oral care expert, author and researcher. He is the cofounder of WisdomTeethRemoval.com, a website providing comprehensive, unbiased information on Wisdom Teeth Removal. You can find more articles from Jack on the wisdom teeth removal blog…he is a top contributor there.