When To Remove Wisdom Teeth

There has been a lot of information in the media in recent years about wisdom teeth, and much of it has been misinformative. The timing of wisdom tooth removal can be very important to the outcome so it is vital for patients and parents to be aware of the factors that must be taken into account regarding this common concern. A previous article addressed the question of Why Do We Remove Wisdom Teeth?

Historically, many dentists have recommended waiting until wisdom teeth cause pain to have them removed. We now know that this advice may set the patient up for future problems and greater potential for complications associated with removal of the teeth. Whether or not a given patient will be among the few individuals who will have adequate space for wisdom teeth allowing them to become functional and maintainable, is usually reliably predictable by the early teen years.

Risk of Complications That Increase With Age

  • All types of potential problems associated with wisdom tooth removal are rare, and such risks should not typically justify delaying treatment of problematic teeth.
  • The most common complications are:
    • Infection
    • Alteration of sensation
      • Most Commonly of lower lip, chin, gums, tongue or palate
    • Dry Socket (Alveolar Osteitis)
    • Bleeding
    • Fracture of the jaw
    • Damage to other teeth
    • Displaced teeth
    • Opening into sinus

There are multiple factors that affect the probability a patient may experience any of these potential negative outcomes. The most important of these factors is the age of the patient. A close second in determining the outcome of any surgical procedure is the experience level and skill of the surgeon. As with any technical craft, both experience and innate talent can influence an outcome. It is vital to seek the best-qualified person in your area when undertaking a procedure of this importance.

The Factors That Affect the Potential For Complication

  • Age of the patient
  • Experience of the Surgeon
  • Position of the tooth
  • Smoking
  • Patient oral hygiene
  • Pre-existing infection
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Underlying health of the patient

When To Remove Wisdom Teeth

As noted in the list above, the age of the patient is the most important factor affecting the outcome of wisdom tooth surgery. Younger patients have

  • Fewer complications
  • Faster recovery
  • Less down time
  • Less post-surgical pain

A common misconception is that one should wait until wisdom teeth begin to erupt or “break though”. There is no rationale for this suggestion. A more correct recommendation is that the wisdom teeth be removed before the roots of the teeth are completely formed. This facilitates ease of removal, increases the distance between the tooth and other important anatomy, and reduces the amount of inflammation and associated discomfort following surgery.

The ideal time to remove wisdom teeth is therefore generally agreed to be during the teenage years. When the patient’s anatomy is suggestive of inadequate space for the normal eruption of these teeth, or suggestive of a later hygiene problem created by their eruption, most commonly we will recommend removal during the mid-teens. Occasionally, there are specific anatomical reasons to remove wisdom teeth as early as twelve or younger.

If You Have Questions

The surgeons of the Surgical Arts Centre are among the most experienced doctors in the world in the removal of teeth and associated procedures.

If you or a loved one is in need of the highest level of care, call today to schedule a consultation. (406) 549-6600

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