Wisdom teeth are a unique evolutionary dead end. Anthropologists suggest that they were a necessity for our ancestors, as the presence of additional teeth gave us the power to process a heavy diet of roots, nuts, leaves, and meat. As we’ve evolved, they’ve become a liability, crowding our mouths and potentially impacting against other teeth. Here are four problems wisdom teeth can cause if not removed.
Regular brushing and flossing is an integral part of daily hygiene, but the remote position of wisdom teeth in your mouth makes them hard to properly clean. That means that they’re especially susceptible to risk of decay. This decay isn’t just relegated to the wisdom teeth either. The bacteria that forms in your wisdom teeth can quickly spread, creating a problem for your entire mouth.
Our mouths are only so large, and if our wisdom teeth grow in without the room to do so, they can harm the integrity of our other teeth. Growing against the inner rows can cause teeth to grow crooked or crowded. This is both a health problem and a cosmetic one. While you may not notice it until later in life, unattended wisdom teeth can necessitate adult braces.
Wisdom teeth grow inside a sac inside the jaw bone. Attending to them is difficult, and they can easily develop excess fluids. These fluids can increase the risk for the growth of cysts, and these cysts can quickly cause damage to the jawbone, nerves, and surrounding teeth. Tumors, though typically benign, may even form around the impact point of the wisdom teeth. In very severe cases, corrective surgery that requires tissue or bone to be removed may become necessary.
Risk of Infection
The same difficulty of cleaning that can increase the risks of tooth decay can also cause an increased incidence of gum disease. When wisdom teeth press against your molars, getting between the cracks can be exceedingly difficult, and this becomes a breeding ground for the sort of bacteria that lead to gum disease. Of particular note is pericoronitis, an incredibly painful gum condition. Bleeding gums, pain in the gums, or tissue that’s inflamed or discolored can all be signs that your wisdom teeth are causing gum disease to spread in your mouth.
If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed, it’s important to have a conversation with your dentist. They can carefully examine the situation and determine if extraction is necessary. A little prevention can greatly decrease the risk of complications.
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