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The wisdom of extracting teeth

How many people do you know who still have their wisdom teeth? If you can't think of any, you're not alone. Nine out of ten people have had at least one impacted wisdom tooth removed. Also known as third molars, wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and appear in your mouth, usually between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life ironically known as the "Age of Wisdom."

Unfortunately, it's a time of life when it's usually unwise to keep wisdom teeth because so many are impacted (unable to erupt normally in the mouth). Impacted teeth are typically unable to break through the gums because there is simply not enough room. When left alone, impacted wisdom teeth can damage neighboring teeth or become infected themselves. Since this area in the back of the mouth is so hard to clean properly, it invites bacteria that cause gum disease.

Oral bacteria can affect other parts of the body
The same bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease can easily travel from your mouth through your bloodstream to other parts of your body. Numerous clinical studies have established strong links between gum disease and higher risk for stroke, heart attach, diabetes, Alzheimer's and many other serious diseases and conditions. In general, Dr. Richard Williams believes that dental surgery for wisdom teeth should be performed only under the following conditions: 

• Trauma to nearby teeth
• Oral infections
• Periodontal disease (gingivitis, periodontitis)
• Cavities that resist being restored
• Cysts and tumors

Only those wisdom teeth that are completely erupted, functioning, painless, cavity-free, hygienic and have healthy gum tissue may be kept. Dr. Williams prefers to avoid wisdom teeth extraction whenever possible. In fact, he only resorts to wisdom teeth removal when the teeth cannot and should not be saved.

Have you been told you need wisdom teeth removal? Call us at 202-364-9400 (Chevy Chase office) or 301-540-8844 (Germantown) or use our online form to schedule your appointment. Our wisdom tooth patients also visit us from Chevy Chase Village, Gaithersburg, Bethesda, other Montgomery County areas and Washington, DC.