For thousands of years wisdom teeth have been causing strife amongst the population. Most problems are created due to the wisdom teeth being difficult to access for daily flossing and brushing.
If the wisdom teeth have become impacted against the teeth in front they can create a pathological pocket which can be deeper than the width of your thumb!
Imagine trying to keep these pockets clean from food debris...Impossible.
Over time, food trapped in these pockets rots and as the bacteria levels rise in the area it can result in bad breath, a foul taste in the mouth, gum disease, dental decay, and acute infections.
If you are lucky enough for your wisdom teeth to manage to erupt fully into the mouth it can still be difficult to manipulate floss back there to keep them clean. Over time this can result in decay.
It would be understandable as a patient to think that this can be treated by just removing the decay and filling the tooth.
But we have to ask ourselves
- Why did this decay occur?
- What were the risk factors?
- Are we changing those risk factors by doing a filling?
A recent consensus article published by the Faculty of Dental Surgery of The Royal College of Surgeons of England discussed the removal of wisdom teeth that present with decay in preference to having fillings.
They stated that; “An impacted third molar tooth [wisdom tooth] may be technically restorable; however there is a duty to realistically appreciate the value of a restorative process that will only delay the removal at a later stage. It would appear that the tooth is being treated rather than the patient”.
(Faculty Dental Journal; Oct 2013, Vol 4, Issue 4)
They also went on to say; “Could the third molar [wisdom tooth] contribute to the development of irreversible disease that would otherwise not occur if it had been absent”.
Hence, there is merit in removing the wisdom teeth as soon as risk factors for decay or periodontal disease in their proximity is noted by either yourself or the dental team in order to reduce the risk of future, and potentially more severe problems further down the track.
Trying to fill decayed wisdom teeth is potentially futile as the risk factors have not changed and therefore new decay is highly likely to form again over time.
By removing them early the local environment is altered as the teeth in front are more accessible for cleaning, thus helping to create a more stable and maintainable set of teeth.