Keeping your wisdom teeth
Though dentists often recommend wisdom tooth removal, it is not always necessary. In fact, where they are not negatively impacting oral and/or overall health, it is best to keep wisdom teeth intact. Properly erupted wisdom teeth provide support in the back of the mouth and help maintain bone in the jaw. This support is beneficial to the health of the temporo mandibular joint (TMJ). Wisdom tooth extraction is often done as a preventative measure, to avoid possible complications later. It is important to discuss the pros and cons with your dentist to determine what the best course of action is for your wisdom teeth.
- Fully erupted
- Positioned correctly
- Able to be cleaned properly
Many dentists recommend extraction without first considering other treatment options. For example, if a wisdom tooth has a cavity, most dentists will recommend extracting that wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth are widely considered “unnecessary,” and any problem is seen as justification for extraction. Before resorting to extraction, we prefer to exhaust other treatment options.
Here are a few possible alternatives to wisdom tooth extraction:
Filling a cavity- as long as enough tooth structure remains, there is no harm in filling a cavity on a wisdom tooth.
Contouring the gum- a partially erupted wisdom tooth could be problematic because the gum covering it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. By contouring or removing the gum covering the tooth, bacteria will no longer become trapped.
Proper care- wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean due to location. With the proper tools and technique, you can keep wisdom teeth clean and healthy.
Irrigation- irrigation can help clean under the gum of a partially erupted wisdom tooth, ridding the area of infection-causing bacteria.
Regular visits to the dentist- not only can your dentist and hygienist help you to keep the area clean, but regular check-ups will help your dentist monitor your wisdom teeth for potential problems.
One of the biggest benefits of keeping your wisdom teeth is avoiding unnecessary dental surgery. As with any surgery, there are risks associated with having your wisdom teeth removed. By keeping your healthy wisdom teeth, you avoid such risks. In avoiding surgery, you will also avoid the recovery period and any potential discomfort during that time.
Infection is one of the most common reasons for wisdom tooth removal. If you plan to keep your wisdom teeth, it is very important to keep them clean. Once you have had your wisdom tooth consultation and made the decision with your dentist to keep your wisdom teeth, your dentist will show you how to properly care for these teeth. With proper care, you can maintain healthy wisdom teeth and overall health.
It is always best to consult with a dentist or oral surgeon about whether you should keep your wisdom teeth. A trusted professional can provide you with the facts to help you make an informed decision. If you decide to keep your wisdom teeth, it is important to continue with regular dental visits to monitor changes in your wisdom teeth. But for many, perhaps extreme caution beats irreversible surgery.
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