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Study Shows Benefit of Wisdom Tooth Extraction for Minor Symptoms

As with many types of treatment, dentists are reevaluating the effectiveness of wisdom tooth extraction, trying to determine when the procedure will benefit patients, and when it should not be performed. Of course wisdom teeth should be removed if they are impacted or if they are causing crowding of your other teeth, but what if there are few symptoms?

New research shows that even in these cases, wisdom tooth extraction helps.

Looking Only at Minor Gum Disease

One common reason for tooth extraction is what is called periocoronitis. Periocoronitis is minor gum disease characterized by inflammation around the tooth that is emerging. According to some studies, this may account for about 40% of all reasons why wisdom teeth are extracted, but many dentists object to this rationale, saying it is not adequate justification for removing an otherwise healthy tooth.

However, a new study published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery shows that even this minor symptom may mean people will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. In the study, 69 patients who had wisdom teeth removed were evaluated before and after extraction to determine their periodontal health. Specifically, researchers looked at the depth of periodontal pockets around the adjacent molars.

Periodontal pocket depth is a good indicator for early stages of gum disease.

Researchers excluded from the study anyone who had major problems associated with their wisdom teeth, including:

  • Major pericoronitis
  • Severe periodontal disease
  • Tobacco use
  • High body mass
  • Acute illness
  • Antibiotic use
  • Pregnancy

The goal was to select patients with as few cofounders as possible, and focus on people with good oral health to show the potential impact of removing third molars. The people they selected actually had overall very good habits: 90% brushed their teeth twice a day, and 90% had flossed the day before evaluation.

The study found that people had significantly improved pocket depth around their second molar–the one adjacent to the wisdom tooth–after wisdom tooth extraction.

Should You Have Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

If you are suffering even minor symptoms, it may be worth it for you to have wisdom tooth extraction. However, it’s only possible for us to make this recommendation after evaluating your teeth in person.

To schedule your evaluation, please contact Strober Dental in San Diego, California today.