I am 26 years old and am having trouble with my wisdom teeth. I only have 3 wisdom teeth (2 on top, 1 on the bottom). All three are impacted. I have an appointment to have the top two removed and am trying to decide if I should have the bottom tooth removed. The roots of the bottom tooth are past the nerve. The surgeon told me that the risk of nerve damage was low (but my risk was slightly higher because the roots are past the nerve) and that I had a few options.
Option 1 – leave it until it starts bothering me.
Option 2 – pull it.
Option 3 – remove the tooth part and leave the roots and hope it doesn’t get infected (if it gets infected they’ll have to go back for the roots).
I was leaning towards just waiting but I’m feeling some pressure in that area of my mouth (although I don’t know if it’s from the bottom tooth or just the general pain I’ve been feeling from the top tooth). Also, I’m not fond of the idea of going through surgery a second time. I would like to know what your opinion was on my options and how likely an infection would be if I just go ahead and have the tooth part removed but leave the roots. Thanks!
– Mary from New York
The problem is that with your impacted wisdom teeth, they get much more difficult to remove the older you get. Every dentist I know of who has taken out many wisdom teeth always advises people to have impacted wisdom teeth removed when you are young (as you are), and the reason is that they know from experience how much more difficult these tooth extractions get the older you get.
The difficulty of extracting them and the risks of complications go up exponentially the older you get. You’re 26 now. When you are 30, your risks may double, at age 35 they may be double that, and so on. And if they are impacted, it is only a matter of time before they give you trouble. What happens is your bone gets harder and stiffer as you get older and the roots can tend to thicken. Why wait until they are infected and the situation becomes an emergency? My advice is to take care of this problem now when you can do it on your own timeline rather than waiting until the time picks you.
As far as leaving the root, that is a reasonable option, though I wouldn’t leave the entire root – only the root tip. If the piece of root is small, the body rarely has a problem with it. Though if I were the surgeon, I would suggest letting me make that determination during the surgery. Often the surgery goes more easily or is more difficult than anticipated, and that decision can be made with more clarity, in my opinion, once I’m in the middle of it.
– Dr. Hall
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