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For decades, the rule of thumb for dentists and oral surgeons was to recommend that wisdom teeth extraction take place, ideally, before age 25. Largely unnecessary and prone to a myriad of problems, wisdom teeth are actually difficult for many people to accommodate comfortably in their mouths. Prone to haphazard eruptions (sometimes horizontal instead of vertical like other teeth) and cavities, wisdom teeth, according to many dental professionals, are just problems waiting to happen.
However, not everyone has their wisdom teeth removed when they’re young because the teeth do not pose any problems. But that can change in time. If you’re a senior who is beginning to have wisdom teeth difficulties, extraction may be advisable. Your Richardson, TX, oral surgeon can help you decide if this is the right course for you.
About Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are our third set of molars. We typically get two to come in on the top and two on the bottom of our mouths. Sometimes, these teeth do not erupt at all. As mentioned, sometimes they erupt with difficulty and their positioning causes pain and problems for the rest of the mouth. When this occurs, dentists typically recommend immediate extraction. Sometimes the wisdom teeth go unnoticed for a person’s entire life. However, many seniors who thought never to experience a problem with their benign back molars may eventually find that these teeth need to go.
Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Safe for Seniors?
Older adults undergo oral surgery every day throughout the country. Some of these surgeries involve the removal of wisdom teeth. Oral surgeons may prefer that people have their wisdom teeth removed when people are young because the young tend to heal quickly and experience fewer complications.
By the time an individual reaches more advanced ages, their immune system may not function as well as it used to, and they may have other health conditions like diabetes or heart disease that further weakens their health. However, an impacted and infected wisdom tooth is an emergency that must be addressed. In fact, the infection that’s present in a wisdom tooth could spread to the person’s blood where it could travel to other parts of the body and pose a significant threat to health.
Overall, wisdom tooth extraction is safe for seniors, but oral surgeons must take into account each person’s individual health before surgery. In fact, any surgeon must take stock of their patient’s overall health in order to provide the ideal treatment and reduce risks for complications. If your surgeon recommends extraction, it’s often to prevent more serious problems from occurring as a result of leaving the wisdom teeth in place.
Why Might a Senior Need to Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
As mentioned, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when they become impacted or infected. Typically, when this occurs, patients will experience:
- Jaw pain and swelling
- Red and swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty opening the mouth
These symptoms can be so unpleasant that they often prompt patients to visit their dentist right away. Dentists can typically diagnose the problem quite quickly; however, there may even be complications with the wisdom teeth such as the formation of an abscess and problems with nearby teeth that have been affected by the wisdom teeth.
Also, dental professionals might recommend that older patients who are beginning to experience a cavity increase in their back molars consider having their wisdom teeth removed. Tooth decay is a significant issue with wisdom teeth; their placement far back in the mouth makes them challenging to clean. Over time, they can begin to suffer more decay than other teeth, and this may warrant their removal, particularly before they can cause further trouble or more serious complications.
What Should Older Adults Know about Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
In most cases, dentists will refer patients to an oral surgeon. Your Richardson, TX, oral surgeon will perform an exam and develop a plan that’s based on your needs and overall health situation. The dental care team will ask about all the medications a patient is currently taking. If a patient is on blood thinners for a health condition, they may be required to stop taking it for a short period of time as these medications can prevent the blood from forming clots; this can lead to excessive bleeding in the mouth during and after the oral procedure.