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my wisdom teeth

My dentist advised me to get my wisdom teeth out. I told him no thanks. I realize I've been on a "trust science, trust doctors" bit lately and he's the second dentist to hint that wisdom teeth are just things that need to come out... I disagree. His reason is, basically, that extra bacteria builds up around them because nobody flosses that far back properly. I don't understand that reason. I mean I have a weird little toenail on my pinky toe that's really hard to paint, I'm not gonna get it yanked off, right?

What brought this up is that my xrays show my wisdom teeth kinda falling out of my face. I only have top ones, the bottom ones just didn't come in, I guess I'm not that wise. The top ones came in just fine and have never bothered me. But without bottom teeth to put pressure on them, they're descending a little, creating more space between the teeth that could lead to gum problems.

Getting wisdom teeth taken out, I told him, is not something you do for fun on a weekend! I've talked to many people about the experience and exactly zero of them have said "yeah it was a total blast I wish I could do it again". So if my teeth aren't giving me problems, why have surgery here?

The hygienist was actually the one who told me "He's recommending that you get them taken out." I was like, when, in the next five years? She said "Maybe the next six months?" I had to talk to him, brought up more concerns, and promised to floss more. I'm going to do some googling but unless I learn something important I have no intention of having them taken out. He wasn't terribly freaked out, so okay.

I'm really dumbfounded by all this. Granted, most people I've talked to had actual problems with their wisdom teeth, that's why they had to come out... maybe if I knew someone who had them out just because their dentist had a hunch about it, I'd be more inclined to believe him? Maybe so many people have problems, the world of dentistry doesn't know how to handle people like me who just got wisdom teeth and it was no biggie?


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
My dad had his come in straight. Then they got infected (abscess, I think the word was) in his 30s.

Even though half of mine were coming in straight, I had all four out. His advice (and this is the man who does not go to the doctor unless he's in so much pain that he can't stop us from taking him): Get them out now. It hurts a lot worse later.

Then again, we were also doing this right before I turned 18, so insurance would actually cover it.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
Mine came out because they were coming in sideways. Combine this with roots that were long enough to possibly screw with the facial nerve.

Same reason I had mine removed two months before my wedding. They were sideways and risking serious impact. Combined with the fact that none of my milk teeth fell out of my head because I have super long roots, which means teeth dont fall out like normal people.
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
I declined to have mine out too despite every dentist for 15+ years telling me they were going to ruin my life any day now.

The *only* quasi-reasonable argument I've ever seen is that *if* you're going to have them out, the sooner the better, because the procedures get pretty drastically horrible if you wait.
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
All 4 of my wisdom teeth are in and I don't know if they're straight, but they don't hurt. My litmus test for whether or not to trust a dentist is whether they tell me to take my wisdom teeth out or not. My trusted family dentist told me not to get them out, and most dentists that have come highly recommended have not mentioned the wisdom teeth.

When I was in med school, I saw this young dentist who told me that if I didn't get my wisdom teeth out, they would become infected while I was in residency and I'd get an abscess, and it would mess up my whole training. Then he had his assistant ask me on my way out when I'd like to schedule having my wisdom teeth out. I told them if I was going to have them out, I certainly wouldn't let that guy do it.
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
I thought you trusted doctors!
Nov. 17th, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
That doesn't mean I trust every doctor I see. Esp dentists.
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
I had all 4 of mine taken out when I was in the military after a few years of declining the offer every time I had my exams.

Why the change of heart? One dentist finally gave me a reasonable answer when I asked him why I should. Basically he said that most people even great brushers and flossers can't keep them clean enough and over the years they will rot, infect, etc. that is if they don't crowd your other teeth first causing you problems that way.

So yea I had all 4 taken out at once it wasn't that big of a deal in my case all I remember is asking him when he was going to get started and he told me he was already done...lol I guess that Demerol cocktail in the IV did its job. Bleeding/Swelling/Pain were minimal afterwards in my case and he gave me a script of Percoset just in case and told me if I was still hurting after that to call in and they would call in another script but take me a notch down to tylenol with Codeine. I was out of pain before I finished the Percoset.

Bottom line its easier to have them taken out when you are younger and they are not a problem if you wait till you're older and or have a problem it will be a tougher experience, look at it as Preventive Maintenance.
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Mine bug me every so often, but it's like they start to grow and then go, "Huh. No room. Better knock this off."
My dentist told me that having them increases the risk of oral cancer, possibly because of the bacteria you mentioned. I think they cause so many issues for the majority of people that there's a bias.
I think it's perfectly normal to NOT want to go through the surgery if it's not a requirement.
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Usually people have issues when they don't have enough space in their mouth for them, or they grow in at an angle, pushing the rest of your teeth together. I, for one, had braces as a teenager and didn't have space for my wisdom teeth to grow in, so I had all four removed when I was 19. My husband never had braces and his wisdom teeth grew in enough to break through his gums before they started crowding his other teeth, so he had his removed when he was 25. It took him a lot longer to recover because his wisdom teeth roots had gotten so deep. That's really the danger of waiting a long time to get them removed. If they continue to grow, the roots can get wrapped around your jaw bone and require major surgery to extricate. So, the younger the better. *shrug*
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
I got mine out when I was 14. It wasn't a big deal at all. I would probably do it again- I kind of did. I got that plate in my face taken out in may, remember? I requested that because the plate was weird and kinda ached when the weather would change.

Surgery isn't a big deal. This isn't like when you had a baby and your vag was ripped for a real long time. This is like that time you had a tooth out and it was an hour surgery at most and you were all better within 2 days. This is much more of the IUD insertion stuff than the traumatic surgical get worked up about it stuff.

PLUS- properly flossing adds time to your life. If you can't do this on your wisdom teeth, FIX. IT.
Nov. 17th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
I saw a dentist in 2005. They suggested I have my wisdom teeth out, preempting any problems. I declined, because although I had pretty decent dental insurance, I didn't feel like it was a necessary expense and I was too busy stressing over how to finance a wedding, never mind elective cosmetic surgery.

Fast forward to Oct. 27 of this year. I've had a surprising amount of pain connected with my teeth for exactly a year. Turns out it was a result of my wisdom teeth, which had grown in wrong, and were very infected. A week and a half later (that's their definition of "emergency referral," I guess?) I had them removed, but by then, the infection was so bad, they couldn't sew up the gums on the bottom. No, those will be healing on their own.

Bottom line, do what you want, but be careful to avoid the, "Well, I'm X years old and they aren't a problem now, so I'm just not going to do it." I thought when I hit 25 and hadn't had an issue, I was in the clear. Guess not?

Although I wouldn't have saved any money on the procedure by having it done five years ago, I most certainly would have avoided the longer recovery time and three weeks of eating nothing but banana smoothies.
Nov. 17th, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
I still have all four of mine and while dentists have suggested getting them pulled to avoid cavities, they've never said I needed to.

Though I am only 24 so I can understand how that wouldn't help put your mind at ease or alter your decision one way or the other. My mother on the other hand is 58 and also still has all four of her wisdom teeth with no such issues nor cavities.

The bottom line? It's up to you. I've heard that if you get your wisdom teeth pulled just for preventative measures, not because they were growing in sideways or any other problem, it's actually not very painful. Since you mentioned that yours were starting to descend on their own, well then hey, less to pull out right?
Nov. 17th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
I'm with you. I'm kinda stubborn about it.
Nov. 17th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
I also had only the top set of wisdom teeth. Eventually I had them taken out after years of Dentists telling me I should "Just 'cause". My reason was that, apparently they don't really stop descending when there's no opposing teeth. Eventually they started irritating my lower gums where the lower wisdom teeth would have been.

The procedure, however, was super quick (under 15 minutes once the local anesthetic took effect) and painless. I went to work immediately after, and other than the most mild of headaches for the rest of the day, suffered no ill effects even without taking any pills. The upper teeth are really easy to get out - IF you do it when they're technically healthy.
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
I believe that most people whose wisdom teeth have grown in "fine" do end up having problems with them if they're not taken out. I did it when I had awesome insurance so didn't have to pay for it. That said, I mean you see your dentist ever 6 months, so you could just really try to brush/floss and he should see whether or not it's working well enough.

What wyldfire says about the no opposing teeth thing is true, isn't that weird? But unless that gets to the point where its bugging you I wouldn't think it's that big of an issue (I had a baby tooth that never fell out and it was smaller than the others so the opposing tooth is longer than the others. Rarr!)
Nov. 17th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I have been a compulsive tooth grinder for over four years now... and my wisdom teeth are still growing in. My dentist said that having them removed will ease some of the irritation causing me to grind... so I said yes. Getting them out is preferable to damaging my healthier teeth.
Nov. 17th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
I had all 4 cut out in my 20's. None had come in yet and I asked the dentist about it. He did an x-ray looking for them. Sure enough they were going to try to come in right on top of my other teeth. It hurt, but I was fine after about a week.

My husband only had the top two wisdom teeth. There were never any at the bottom (confirmed with x-rays). He was fine until last year (39 yo). The top teeth kept growing because there was nothing below them to make them stop. They grew long enough that they were constantly cutting into the side of his mouth. We were all prepared for the horror that is removing of the wisdom teeth. But it was absolutely no big deal because the teeth were already in (instead of having to be cut out because they hadn't come in yet). It took maybe half an hour and he was fine to eat the next morning. He only had to use one of the pain pills he was given.
Nov. 18th, 2011 04:20 am (UTC)
I opted to have mine out because I thought it would help the awful bad breath I was getting. Turns out nope, not only did I get to go through two weeks of pain and not being able to open my jaw, but the breath just got worse as I had four gaping maws to collect particulate in.

mine were in sideways, and just barely poked through my gums. The worst trouble they gave me before getting them out was having a pocket of liquid swell up so that I couldn't close my jaw, then a few hours later burst.

Besides, that shit is expensive. he's probably just trying to racket you
Nov. 18th, 2011 05:55 am (UTC)
I also only have top wisdom teeth. I was told they needed to come out because i didn't have enough jaw for them, and indeed, they did hurt. The right side had the rearmost molar taken out, because it was badly broken (note: lick rocks, don't chew) and that worked out fine. Easy, smooth, I'm very happy. The left wisdom tooth came out with difficulty, it had a 'kickstand' root. It almost killed me, literally. I one of my friends hadn't become concerned I stopped communicating and let herself into my house, I'd have lortab'd myself through a major onset of blood infection.
So, yeah, if your teeth don't hurt you, then just brush well and leave them alone!
Nov. 18th, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
I didn't actually get any pressure to get them out "just because." But I ended up having them out in my early 40's because they were causing gum problems and, in one case, resulted in a large cavity in the tooth next to one. Having them out was not terrible at that age, so I'd say it's fine to leave them if they;re not causing problems.
Nov. 19th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
I had mine out when I was 17 because they were going to come crooked and interfere with many dollars of orthodontia I'd already had. But I have known many people over the years who didn't do it at a preventive thing and then had the emergency trip to a dentist which was horrible for them.

I would say that as long as you're going to the dentist regularly and getting those xrays so that they can see if they're decaying or not you should be fine. If you see yourself taking a few years off from going to the dentist I would get them yanked.

Think of it like the belts on your car. You change them if they're wearing, but if you're gonna take a big road trip you might just change them before the trip so that you know they wont cause a problem.
Nov. 19th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)
My mom just had hers out last week at age 67. Apparently one of them was rotting crazy in her head and causing infection inside, even though it was still up inside. So since she was getting one out, she figured why not the rest just in case.

The dentist said it is pretty common if you don't get it done when you are younger that you have to get it done as a senior. Basically what commonly happens is at some point you get an abrasion in your mouth, a cut or something, and bacteria gets in there with the tooth. And then the abrasion heals, but the bacteria is in there and just festers inside without you noticing for a loong time until your jaw starts to hurt for seemingly no reason like my mom's did. And when they did an exray it was mostly just a hole full of ... well, grossness, and partial tooth.
Nov. 19th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
I was pressured, big time, to get mine out. I had all 4 of them come in fully, and they were straight and not crowding any other teeth. I protested, but the doc said I just wasn't able to do a good enough job flossing/cleaning back there. One of the wisdom teeth had a small cavity and he said it would be very, very difficult for him to get to it to fill it properly. I wasn't about to get only 1 removed, so I got all 4 done at the same time.

I'd highly recommend doing them all at once, for the record. Why drag it out? Better to get it all over with at once. Anyway, I had them yanked with just a local. I didn't want an IV. It was fast and painless. Recovery honestly wasn't bad - nothing like I'd imagined it would be.

It really is better to get them out while you're young, IF you're going to at all. The older you are, the higher the risk of certain complications (nerve damage, etc.) As you age, your jawbone hardens more, and the roots of your wisdom teeth become entangled in even harder jawbone. It makes for a much more difficult procedure and recovery.
Nov. 20th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
It seems like an American thing/preventive care? My dentist in India and Malaysia adviced me against it. All my American friends have gotten their wisdom teeth out unlike my non-American friends.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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