Millions of Americans go under the knife each year to get rid of their third molars, known commonly as wisdom teeth. The practice has become so widespread that many consider it a part of coming of age. With that being said, there are many who consider the procedure unnecessary and even dangerous. Is this entirely true? Do we really need to extract our wisdom teeth, or are we wasting money on a simply unneeded procedure?
Extractions on the Rise
It is estimated that Americans extracted 11 million wisdom teeth in 2011 alone. That is a lot of teeth to be sure, but why are we pulling them exactly? The reason varies from person to person, but a lot of it has to do with impaction, that is, the wisdom tooth is unable to breach the gums due to blockage from other teeth. If this tooth is not extracted then it not only risks becoming infected, but can also push against nearby teeth causing damage as well as unsightly crowding.
Even when your wisdom teeth are not impacted, there still lies some risk for other issues arising. Because your wisdom teeth are so far back in your mouth, they can be hard to properly clean. This can lead to gum inflammation, a common symptom of gum disease, and a potential cause of tooth decay.
Extracted wisdom teeth can also help others in a relatively uncommon way. These teeth have been a great source of stem cells that are used to treat everything from corneal scarring to heart disease and leukemia. Additionally, because these stem cells come from consenting adults it is a less controversial way to obtain these life saving stem cells.
Consult an Expert
It is important not to make rash decisions, especially in regards to your health. You should consult a licensed dentist before you decide to get your wisdom teeth extracted. What you discover may surprise you. There is a chance that you may not need your wisdom teeth extracted. They could have enough room to avoid become impacted, and may come in straight enough that extraction is not necessary. Also, due to an increasingly common mutation, some people are born without wisdom teeth.
It may be hard to tell whether your wisdom teeth need extracted or not. You should consult an experienced dentist that you can trust. Dr. Dan Matthews is an expert in his field and cares about the well-being of his patients. If you have any questions about your wisdom teeth and live in the Austin area, please give us at Dan Matthews, DDS a call at (512) 520-0606.