Wait Or Worry: Wisdom Teeth Don't Always Cause A Problem, But They Can Be Sneaky

Wisdom teeth have an unpleasant reputation, from painful eruption to impaction and the need for fast surgery. In reality, they aren't always the most cooperative teeth, but sometimes they erupt with no real problems. If you still have your wisdom teeth and have begun to wonder if they're little enameled time bombs, stop worrying. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on them. But do so with the knowledge that sometimes, everything is OK.

No Sign of Impaction

If your wisdom teeth have not yet erupted -- they should have by the time you reached adulthood, but in case they haven't, or in case you're still moving from teenage years to adulthood -- get an x-ray of each tooth. A current x-ray will give you information about where the teeth are headed and whether they look impacted. If they do look impacted, yes, you'll have to have them removed. But if they don't look impacted, and they're not causing you pain, just wait and see what they do, and stop worrying about them.

Painless Cavities

If your wisdom teeth have erupted and are relatively straight, you likely won't have to have them pulled if they aren't causing you a problem -- unless they're too far back in your mouth to care for. The very back sides of the teeth can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush and can easily form cavities. Cavities aren't always painful, so you could have some forming and not know it. Again, get X-rays; if there are no cavities, you're good, but if there are some, you may want to get the wisdom teeth pulled instead of filled because of how difficult they are to clean (even if you fill the cavities, you could always get more cavities since you can't clean the teeth properly).

Only One Erupting

Your wisdom teeth are meant to erupt in upper-lower pairs, so that when you bite down, an upper tooth meets a matching lower tooth. If one wisdom tooth in the pair erupts but the other doesn't, there is nothing to stop the erupting tooth from supra-erupting, growing longer until it hits the gum on the other jaw. Not all teeth do this, but if yours start to, then you do need to get wisdom teeth removal.

Keeping track of what your wisdom teeth do, erupted or not, starts with an x-ray at your dentist's office. Give them a call to arrange an appointment.