10 Questions to help you decide whether to keep or remove wisdom teeth
Once you’ve understood the pros and cons of removing versus keeping wisdom teeth, then it’s time to make a decision. Here is a list of question to better help you decide whether to keep or remove wisdom teeth in your mouth. Please answer each question with either a “yes” or “no”:
- Do you have pain and swelling on your wisdom teeth?
- Have you experienced repeated episodes of pain and swelling where your wisdom are located, lasting about a week at a time?
- Do you suffer from unexplained headaches or jaw (TMJ) problems?
- Is there insufficient space for your wisdom teeth to fully come out within your jaws?
- Have you worn braces before?
- Have people in your immediate family had to remove their wisdom teeth?
- Are you under the age of 40?
- Is your wisdom tooth removal considered a low-risk or medium-risk surgery?
- Can you afford to pay for wisdom removal surgery? Generally a few hundred bucks a tooth?
- Do you have dental insurance which covers wisdom teeth removal surgery?
Good candidate for removing wisdom teeth
The decision to keep or remove wisdom teeth depends on numerous factors. If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you probably should consider removing your third molars:
Questions 1 through 3: Pain and discomfort
The most obvious reason for removing wisdom teeth is pain and discomfort. If you’re actively experiencing pain then you should remove your wisdom teeth. However, most experienced dentists and oral surgeons can correctly predict if you will be facing pain sooner or later. Removing wisdom teeth before they start to actually cause pain is always a wise idea and will spare you tremendous pain and headaches.
Questions 4 and 5: Teeth crowding
If you’ve had orthodontic treatment before then you’ve suffered from teeth crowding issues. It’s unlikely that there’s sufficient room for four more teeth in your mouth. This generally means that it’s more likely that you need to remove your wisdom teeth as well. The sooner you remove wisdom teeth, the lesser damage they do to your bite and remaining teeth. You may have to consult your dentist or oral surgeon see if not removing your wisdom teeth is going to cause teeth crowding or not.
Question 6: Familial traits
This is not a major determining factor, but we do see a trend run in families. If your parents or siblings had to remove their wisdom teeth, then odds are you will too. This is usually because teeth size compared to jaw size is a familial trait. However if you are much taller or larger than the rest of your family members, or if you have disproportionately smaller teeth, then you may be just lucky enough to get to keep your wisdom teeth.
Question 7: Your age
Ideally you want to remove your wisdom teeth early on in your teens or twenties. By the time you are in your forties and beyond, the negative impact of having wisdom teeth is starting to diminish. Additionally, risks and complications of wisdom removal surgery increases significantly with age.
If you’re middle-aged and still have a couple of wisdom teeth left, it might not be a bad idea to only remove them if it becomes necessary. For instance, should they develop infection or start causing pain. Otherwise consider leaving your wisdom teeth alone since removing them is probably not worth the trouble any longer!
Question 8: Surgery risk levels
If your tooth is seated very deeply, then the odds of it actually trying to come out and cause problems in the future is very slim. This also means your tooth is sitting very close to your nerves or sinuses. Removing deeply embedded wisdom teeth can be quite risky and dangerous. It could lead to nerve damage or sinus tear, both which are serious complications.
Nerve damage may go away after a few weeks or months. However occasionally it remains there indefinitely. This means that you will feel numb in that region permanently which is not a good feeling at all. A sinus tear is also very serious and causes a stuffy feeling. Smaller sinus tears heal on their own but larger ones may require a subsequent surgery to treat.
If you’ve been told your wisdom surgery is high risk, you should consult an oral surgeon about it. Often times your oral surgeon will wisely advise you to consider leaving such a wisdom teeth alone. This is typically sound advice and you should follow it!
Question 8: Paying for the procedure
Affording the surgery is a big part of deciding to keep or remove wisdom teeth. Wisdom tooth removal surgery is expensive. Removing each tooth typically costs a few hundred dollars. That means that if you have four of them you’re probably looking at a few thousand to have them all removed. If you can’t afford it you can consider financing options. If that still doesn’t work, then just remove the one that is hurting your the most. 9 out of 10 times the lower wisdom teeth hurt more than top ones so you should focus on removing them first.
If you have dental insurance then seriously consider removing your wisdom teeth. Plan on dedicating one calendar year of your dental insurance benefits to cover your wisdom teeth removal surgery. Also try to perform the surgery when you’re off from work or school. Summer breaks and holidays are the best times to allow yourself sufficient time to recover afterwards.
Good candidate for keeping your wisdom teeth
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions, then consider holding off on removing your wisdom teeth. Of course things can always change in the future. Keep in mind that so long as you keep your wisdom teeth, you must keep a close eye on them. Go to your regular dental checkups so your dentist has a chance to monitor them as well. Also make sure not to forget to get your toothbrush and floss all the way back there as well to keep them nice and clean!
Final thought on deciding whether to keep or remove wisdom teeth
The sooner you decided whether to keep or remove wisdom teeth, the better your outcome. Waiting until you’re older and your teeth start to hurt causes unnecessary pain and discomfort. Additionally, you run the risk of having your other teeth become crooked. You could also sustain damage to the neighboring teeth which sit right next to your wisdom teeth.
Essentially, a single bad wisdom tooth can affect your entire oral and overall well-being. It can cause toothache, gum problems, headaches and all sorts of pain and discomfort which you may not even attribute to the wisdom tooth. So talk to your dentist and oral surgeon and make the right decision when it comes to whether or not you should retain your wisdom tooth or not.
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When should I keep wisdom teeth?