Can Removing My Wisdom Teeth Cause Nerve Damage?
Although wisdom teeth removal is common today, during the Stone Age, these extra teeth were essential. According to anthropologists, our ancestors’ diet was extremely harsh on the teeth, causing them to wear down rather quickly. This third set of molars emerged at a later point in life to help with chewing tough meats and nuts as well as the coarse roots, leaves and grains that their diet consisted of.
When Do Wisdom Teeth Typically Erupt?
While all your other teeth are already formed at birth, your set of third molars do not even begin to form until you turn 10 years of age. Wisdom tooth eruption can take place at any time between the ages of 17 to 25. However, sometimes, complications arise and these third molars never erupt. This lack of eruption is typically referred to as ‘impaction.’
Why Are These Teeth Removed?
When impaction occurs, surgical removal of the impacted tooth is required. However, even if these molars erupt correctly, due to their location in the very back of the mouth, many people have difficulty keeping them clean. The inability to sufficiently remove plaque before it hardens into tartar (i.e., calculus) leads to decay. Since filling the third molars is impractical, removal is the only feasible solution.Some people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed even when they are not experiencing any problems: Patients make this choice to ensure that future problems will not arise.
Do Most People Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Yes, at some point, most people do consider having their wisdom teeth removed; however,some people are apprehensive because of the discomfort associated with this procedure as well as the potential complications that could arise.
One of the most common fears people express to Dr. William P. Lamas and his staff is the concern that the removal of their wisdom teeth will result in nerve damage. But, is this really a valid concern?
Nerve Damage: A Rare Complication
While rare, nerve damage is a potential complication of wisdom tooth removal. If nerve damage occurs, the patient may experience tingling, numbness or other sensations in the areas that are controlled by the damaged nerve. Although nerve damage is frequently discussed before wisdom tooth extractions, this complication is extremely rare.
Which Nerves Would Be Affected?
The inferior alveolar nerve and the trigeminal nerve are the two nerves that could become damaged or injured during a wisdom tooth extraction. These nerves are responsible for controlling the sensations of the lower lip, tongue and chin. Damage to the nerves occurs when they are cut or bruised during the procedure. Choosing an experienced surgeon to remove your wisdom teeth reduces the likelihood of experiencing any type of complication.
If a Nerve is Damaged, is it Permanent?
If the nerve is bruised during the procedure, just like any other bruise, it will eventually heal.However, if a nerve is cut, it cannot be repaired and is unable to heal naturally; therefore, the sensation lost will most likely never return. For the most part, nerves that are going to recover begin to regain sensation within about a month of the procedure.
Wisdom tooth extractions typically occur before an individual reaches the age of 25. Removal is recommended before the age of 25; otherwise, these molars have time to finish forming, which means they will have longer roots. Longer roots make the molar much more difficult to pull and puts the patient at greater risk for experiencing a complication, including nerve damage.
Every Surgical Procedure Has Risks
Every procedure has its own risks; nevertheless, some procedures offer fewer complications than others. Wisdom tooth removal carries a relatively low risk and, while nerve damage is a possibility, it is very unlikely; particularly when compared to other potential complications, like dry socket. Dry socket occurs in approximately 10 percent of patients who undergo wisdom tooth removal surgery; however, this complication is easy to treat and resolves quickly.
Should You Have Your Third Molars Removed?
If you are experiencing inflammation and pain, your wisdom teeth are probably impacted. In this case, to prevent further complications, you very well may need to have your wisdom teeth extracted. If you are considering a proactive approach to wisdom tooth removal, you need to speak with Dr. William P. Lamas about the pros and cons of having them extracted now or about waiting to have them removed later.
If you want to learn more about wisdom tooth removal, or you think you may need your teeth extracted, contact Lamas Dental Specialists today at 305-440-4114 to schedule your complimentary initial consultation. Dr. William P. Lamas is an experienced periodontist with an office in Miami. He has been serving South Florida for more than 20 years and is rated one of the leading periodontists in the area. In addition, Dr. Lamas is a top doctor on RealSelf.
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