Wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars, typically erupt somewhere in the late teens or early adult years. In many cases, instead of coming in properly, they end up either impacted or crooked, causing trouble with the jaw line. In other situations, there may not be enough room in the jaw to allow them to come in properly. If either of these situations is true for you, it'll be important for you to have those teeth extracted. Here's a look at what you should know about determining if extraction is necessary and dealing with the post-extraction recovery.

What is Considered When Deciding Whether Or Not To Extract?

There are several factors that contribute to deciding how to deal with wisdom teeth. Here's a look at what you and your dentist should discuss.

The position of those wisdom teeth is important. For those whose wisdom teeth are coming in straight and don't appear to be problematic at all, there's no reason to extract them. Your dentist will likely just let them erupt and keep an eye on the process to ensure that there are no complications. If, however, the teeth are crooked, uneven or growing into a neighboring tooth, the dentist may recommend extraction. If the tooth becomes impacted, which means it cannot come through the gums because of the direction it's growing, it can cause intense pain, swelling and irritation on the gums. Sometimes, it can even cause damage to the neighboring tooth if it pushes on it. If some teeth are coming in properly and others look problematic, you may only have to have one or two of them extracted instead of all four.

Any potential for decay is problematic. When your wisdom teeth come in very close to the other molars in the area, they can make it difficult to effectively clean them. This means that you're at an increased risk of decay on those teeth because of the accumulation of bacteria. This is even more of a concern if you have a wisdom tooth that's only partially erupted, because any pocket in your gums can provide a space for food particles and bacteria to cause problems.

The risk of complications is a serious consideration. Sometimes people find themselves at an increased risk of complications from extraction than others. For example, older patients may be at a greater risk of difficulty with the extractions because the jawbone hardens as you age. Your dentist will weigh out the risk of any complications against the current need for extraction to determine the best possible course of action.

Tips for Wisdom Tooth Extraction Recovery

The first day after extraction, you're going to want to plan on resting as much as possible. Make sure you have soft or liquid-based things to eat, because you'll experience the worst of the pain during this period. In addition, you want to avoid getting any food particles in those spaces where the teeth were pulled from, because that can lead to infection.

Over the next week, you'll be able to gradually increase the substance of the food you're eating. Start with softer foods, then work your way up as your pain levels ease and things start to heal. Just remember that it's best not to skip meals, because your body needs those nutrients during the healing process. Talk with your dentist about any foods he or she suggests you avoid, and make sure that you keep up with the required medications and mouth rinses until you've healed.

As you can see, there are many things that contribute to determining whether or not you need your wisdom teeth extracted. Now that you understand what your dentist will evaluate and how you need to prepare for recovery, you'll be able to approach the process with greater confidence. Contact a dentist like Dale D. Lentz DDS for wisdom teeth extraction.