Thomas M. Weil, D.D.S
Steve L. Koo, D.D.S
Diplomats of the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons

Wisdom Teeth Removal: When Tooth Extraction is Necessary

January 10, 2016

young female patient preparing for wisdom teeth removalIn most cases, dentists put forth every effort to preserve natural teeth and avoid extraction. The one exception to this rule is wisdom teeth. This third set of molars is almost always extracted. There are numerous reasons why teeth are pulled including severe decay, gum disease, crowding, and severe fractures or breaks. Wisdom teeth are typically extracted for these same reasons, but these extractions are much more common due to the timing of wisdom teeth eruption. A hold over from an evolutionary period when teeth were much more likely to be damaged, third molars erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. Our ancient ancestors consumed coarse diets that damaged teeth, and they typically needed this third set of teeth at this point in their development. However, refined foods, better at-home oral hygiene, and regular preventive care, make these teeth essentially unnecessary. Thus, crowding, impaction (inability of tooth to erupt), tooth decay, and other issues are much more common as they relate to wisdom teeth.

When Should Wisdom Teeth be Extracted?

In some rare cases, wisdom teeth extraction is unnecessary, but most people opt to remove their third molars to prevent or correct oral health issues. Some of the most common reasons wisdom teeth extraction is recommended include:

  • Impaction – when wisdom teeth are unable to erupt, they cause pain, infection, or misalignment. In these cases, it is typically necessary to remove the tooth in order to restore oral health.
  • Crowding – in some cases, wisdom teeth are able to erupt fully, but there is not adequate space for them on patients’ jaws. In these cases, failing to remove wisdom teeth can shift surrounding teeth out of alignment, cause unnecessary pain, or uneven pressure and ware on teeth.
  • Decay – when wisdom teeth are impacted against the second molars, the risk for tooth decay in both sets of molars is elevated. In these cases, removal may be necessary as a preventive measure.

The Wisdom Tooth Removal Process

When wisdom teeth are able to erupt, extraction is fairly simple. The dentist uses small forceps to “pull” the teeth from their sockets after applying local anesthesia. For patients who experience impaction or teeth that are otherwise unresponsive to pulling, surgical removal may be necessary. For teeth that are partially erupted, this may be as simple as cutting away some of the connective gum tissue before pulling. In other cases, one of our skilled surgeons makes a minor incision in the gums to access the tooth. Depending on the state of teeth, the dentist may need to break it into several smaller pieces before extracting. Regardless, the tooth is surgically separated from the gums and supporting alveolar bone tissue, and pulled using forceps.

Contact Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Today

For information on wisdom teeth extraction or any of our other services, contact the skilled team at Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. We’re here to help patients from Houston, Katy, and beyond who need tooth removal, reconstructive surgery, and numerous non-neurological, surgical procedures.

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2450 Fondren, Suite 320, Houston, TX 77063 USA
Dr. Steve Koo Dr. Thomas Weil Houston oral surgeons Dr. Steve Koo, Dr. Thomas Weil provide implant dentistry services (713) 783-5560 (713) 783-3116 info@pineypointoms.com