Should Adults Get Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal is one of those events kids either fear or anticipate (if only to avoid going to school for a week). There is a reason dentists and oral surgeons recommend pulling wisdom teeth during teen years. When wisdom teeth begin to emerge and develop, the roots are not yet fully grown, making extraction relatively simple and risk-free. After about the age of 24, however, the roots are almost (if not already) fully grown, and there may be complications with a traditional extraction. The presence of wisdom teeth does not benefit the jaw in any way. At this point the decision calculus becomes about whether the risks of infection from leaving the teeth in outweigh the risks of oral surgery.
X-Rays Can Help Shed Some Light
Ask your doctor for a CT scan of your jaw. The initial xray done on the jaw is two-dimensional and will not show alveolar nerve positioning vis a vis the roots. A CT scan will. If you can confirm via a CT scan that the roots of your lower wisdom teeth are not touching or intertwined with the nerve, and extraction is still possible.
Benefits Of Removing Wisdom Teeth In Adult Years
The major benefit to removing wisdom teeth as an adult is preventing infections, cysts, and general jaw pain if the teeth have become impacted. In rare cases, wisdom teeth grow in perfectly straight, weakening the case for extraction. In even rarer cases, only one or two of the four teeth grow at all. However, if the teeth become impacted, that means that there is insufficient room for them to fully grow, creating tension with the other teeth and making them difficult to clean.
What Do You Think?
Should Adults Remove Their Wisdom Teeth?
Drawbacks Of Removing Wisdom Teeth In Adult Years
There are actually a handful of drawbacks when it comes to wisdom teeth removal after the age of 24:
- Roots are adjacent to or intertwined with the alveolar nerve, which supplies sensory branches to the lower lip and chin. Because a full extraction involves removing the teeth along with the roots, the alveolar nerve can become damaged. Should this occur, paralysis of the lip, chin, or face is possible. It is possible that the roots are not touching the nerve at all, in which case this risk is substantially mitigated.
- Costs. Depending on your dental insurance plan, wisdom teeth removal may or may not be covered. The cost for removing wisdom teeth can be anywhere from $300-$600 per tooth, so the up front cost may not be worth it.
- A coronectomy procedure carries risks of its own. A coronectomy is the alternative surgical procedure to extraction, and is performed when wisdom teeth roots are intertwined with the alveolar nerve. The procedure involves cutting off the crowns of the teeth and leaving the roots in. This is in many ways, a short term solution. If an infection forms during the process itself, an extraction will become necessary (leaving infected roots in the gums will cause the infection to spread, further complicating matters).
So there you have it. Medical consensus does not exist when it comes to wisdom teeth removal for adults. It is best to visit a doctor and evaluate your situation before making any hasty decisions.