Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Teeth Whitening Chapel Hill NCThe last set of adult teeth to come in are called wisdom teeth, and they are notorious for making

even the most confident people anxious. People always ask their dentist if they need their wisdom teeth removed, even if they aren’t having any symptoms!

Chapel Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Chapel Hill, NC understands that many patients may have anxiety about their wisdom teeth. Learn more about these teeth and whether you might need them removed. You might be surprised to learn that they can stay in place!

Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

Humans have three sets of molars, and this last set of molars that develops between the ages of 17-25 is referred to as “wisdom” teeth. The saying goes that this age is when young adults leave the home to search for knowledge and wisdom. 

Wisdom teeth are clinically referred to as “third molars” because they are the third and final set of molars to erupt. They are located behind the second set, which you may remember erupted in middle school. Wisdom teeth eruption is the same, but this time there’s even less room in the mouth for them to move around.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

In general, conservative treatment is preferred. Dentists look for specific indicators that a patient might need their wisdom teeth removed. Simply having wisdom teeth does not mean they have to be removed. Some indicators include:

  • They become impacted: Many people see “impacted” and think “infection,” but this is not always true. When the wisdom teeth are blocked by teeth and are unable to erupt, they are referred to as impacted. While some patients experience pain or discomfort when this happens, many others don’t realize they have impacted wisdom teeth until a dentist finds it on an X-ray.
  • Pericoronitis: When wisdom teeth begin erupting (coming out) of the gums, a flap of gum tissue can develop, which may trap leftover food particles and oral bacteria. This infection, called pericoronitis, irritates the surrounding gums, making the spot difficult to clean and can even occur in wisdom teeth that have not erupted yet.
  • The dentist suspects a risk of future problems: If your dentist determines there is a risk of future problems by leaving the wisdom teeth in, they may suggest extraction. Performing wisdom tooth extraction is easier on younger patients, so even if you haven’t experienced problems yet, your dentist may recommend removal to prevent a more difficult procedure in the future.

Conservative Wisdom Teeth Treatment

It’s important to know that not everyone with wisdom teeth will need them removed. Sometimes they erupt with no problems, or they can be managed without surgery. There are several factors to be considered, so it’s important to have regular dental check-ups, especially as a teen and young adult. Patients in the Chapel Hill, NC area who want to learn more about wisdom teeth removal can schedule an appointment with Chapel Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry online or call us at (919) 213-9767.