The following is an excerpt from the library of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons:
How Serious Is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
If left in the mouth, impacted wisdom teeth may damage neighboring teeth, or become infected. Becausethe third molar area of the mouth is di cult to clean, it is a site that invites the bacteria that leads to gumdisease. Oral bacteria may travel from your mouth through the bloodstream, where it may lead to possiblesystemic infections and illnesses that a ect the heart, kidneys and other organs.
Research has shown that once periodontal disease is established in the third molar areas, the problem is persistent and progressive, but may improve following extraction of the teeth. 4 5 6
In some cases a uid- lled cyst or tumor may form around the base of the untreated wisdom tooth. As thecyst grows it may lead to more serious problems as it hollows out the jaw and damages surrounding nerves, teeth and other structures.
What Is an Impacted Tooth?
When a tooth is unable to fully enter the mouth, it is said to be “impacted.” In general, impacted teeth are unable to break through the gums because there is not enough room. Nine out of ten people have at least
one impacted wisdom tooth.
Must the Tooth Come Out if It Hasn’t Caused Any Problems Yet?
Many people believe that as long as they are not in pain, they do not have to worry about their wisdom teeth. However, pain free does not mean disease or problem free. In fact, wisdom teeth that come in normally may still be prone to disease, according to a study by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation. AAOMS strongly recommends that third molars be evaluated by an OMS by the time a patient is a young adult in order to assess the presence of third molars, disease status, and to suggest management options ranging from removal to a monitored retentionplan to ensure optimal patient-speci c outcomes.
In general, dental and medical professionals agree that wisdom teeth should be removed in the following instances:
• Infections and/or periodontal disease • Cavities that cannot be restored
• Pathologies such as cysts, and tumors • Damage to neighboring teeth
Wisdom teeth that are completely erupted and functional, painless, cavity-free, in a hygienic environment with healthy gum tissue, and are disease-free may not require extraction. They do, however, require regular, professional cleaning, annual check-ups and periodic radiographs to monitor for any changes
What if I Decide to Keep My Wisdom Teeth?
If after discussing your situation with your family dentist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon, you decide tokeep your wisdom teeth, be sure to take particular care in cleaning and ossing your teeth, especially the molars. Your third molars must be professionally examined regularly and x-rays of your wisdom teeth shouldbe taken every year to make sure that the health of your teeth and gum tissue does not change.