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Wisdom Teeth: Is Removal Worse the Older You Get?

Portrait of a pretty woman shrugging shoulders isolated on a white backgroundWisdom teeth are the third set of molars which typically appear in a person's late teens or early twenties. Given their delayed arrival, these four molars can likely cause crowding in your mouth, forcing your other teeth to shift. This is arguably the main reason why most dentists recommend the surgical removal of wisdom tooth. 

Here are other reasons why the removal of wisdom teeth is recommended:

  • Because there is typically insufficient space for wisdom teeth, they may become severely impacted.  This can lead to the development of infections, cysts, pain and damage to neighboring teeth.  
  • The partial eruption of wisdom teeth could result in infections.
  •  Wisdom teeth are hard to clean which will lead to tooth decay or gum disease.

Wisdom-teeth removal at a young age

Though there is no set age limit within which a person should have his/her wisdom teeth extracted, dentists recommend that the procedure occur between the ages of 17 and 25 years. Wisdom teeth begin developing around 10 years of age, and they appear fully developed in the late teens.  

Possible complications of late wisdom-teeth removal

When a patient is older, the roots of wisdom teeth are fully formed. It is more difficult to remove wisdom teeth that have a "strong hold" in the jawbone. A board-certified oral surgeon will take the appropriate steps to remove the stubborn teeth and to avoid any complications that could affect the patient's recovery time. 

Also, when a wisdom-teeth patient is older, there is a higher risk of nerve damage due to the proximity of the roots to the nerve that controls the feeling on the lower lip. The bones in an older person are likely to be harder than those of a younger person, further complicating the procedure. 

The wisdom teeth extraction process

The wisdom teeth extraction process will begin with a consultation and digital imaging (X-ray.) The X-ray helps the oral surgeon establish how the teeth are aligned and positioned. The complexity of the wisdom teeth extraction depends on their position. Have the wisdom teeth erupted or are they impacted? Your oral surgeon may decide to use local anesthesia or intravenous anesthesia depending on how difficult he/she estimates the procedure will be. 

Once the procedure has been completed, a little swelling and pain are expected which can be treated with prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers and ice packs. It is recommended that you eat soft foods for several days as you recover.  

Whether you opt to have your wisdom teeth extracted in your teens or later in life, the best recommendation is to use the services of a board-certified oral surgeon to perform the procedure.  

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