Common problems with wisdom teeth include pericoronitis, caries and inflammation of the dental pulp.
Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the tissue that surrounds a partially erupted wisdom tooth. It is a common problem that usually affects young adults.
About 95% of pericoronitis cases occur in lower wisdom teeth. As wisdom teeth are not important for maintaining a correct occlusion, or bite, they are often extracted.
Typical symptoms of acute pericoronitis are swollen gum tissue around the wisdom tooth, pain and a bad taste in the mouth. More serious symptoms that require immediate treatment include fever, wisdom tooth-related abscess and difficulty opening the mouth because of swelling.
Pericoronitis usually develops when wisdom teeth start to erupt. It is rare in people over 30 years of age.
CARIES, PULPITIS AND TOOTH ROOT INFECTION
Caries, or tooth decay, is a common problem, particularly with wisdom teeth. If left untreated, caries can lead to pulpitis, which is an inflammation of the dental pulp.
Pulpitis can cause throbbing pain in the tooth. It can reach the tooth pulp and lead to tooth root infection, also known as apical periodontitis, if left untreated. Tooth root infection is a common reason for tooth extraction.
Large cavities can cause microbes to penetrate the tooth pulp (middle) and reach the tooth root (right). Tooth root infection can only be treated by removing the tooth if root canal treatment doesn’t fix the problem.
Periodontitis damages the tissue and bone that support a tooth and can cause the tooth to become loose. Removing and, if necessary, replacing the tooth with prosthesis can be the only reasonable treatment option.
Advanced periodontitis damages the tissue and bone that supports the tooth. A loose and damaged tooth may need to be extracted.
OTHER REASONS FOR TOOTH EXTRACTION
Severe tooth and jaw traumas, root fractures and cracks are other reasons a tooth may be removed.
If a tooth is in a poor condition or increases the risk of infection, it may need to be removed proactively, particularly before starting a strong medication or undergoing a surgery.
Some medications for conditions such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis weaken the body’s defense system, and even minor tooth infections can then quickly spread and cause severe health problems.
For challenging surgical treatments to succeed and for the patient to recover, the blood must be free of bacteria. Bacteria is found in damaged teeth, so the patient’s mouth and teeth should be checked and any damaged teeth extracted before starting a strong medication or undergoing a challenging surgery.
For those in certain professions (such as divers, pilots, and soldiers) the risk of teeth infections is minimized by removing possibly problematic teeth proactively.
Less common reasons for tooth extraction include other dental treatments that require removing the tooth (orthodontic and prosthetic treatments) as well as the treatment of cysts or tumors in the jaw area.