The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-18-2010, 02:49 PM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Unopposed wisdom teeth. Remove them?

I know a guy with upper wisdom teeth, but no lower ones in opposition to them. They are fully erupted, apparently healthy, straight, and have been so for a decade. His dentist recommends extraction, on the presumption that they will continue growing and eventually impinge on the lower jaw, causing pain, gum loss, chewing problems, cats & dogs playing together, and possibly a hole in the ozone layer. Also, the doc claims wisdom teeth are hard to clean and will eventually have tooth decay problems.

Now, I'm normally all for listening to people who went to medical school, but is the prognosis inevitably bad here? If it isn't, why risk complications like the dreaded (and dreadful) dry socket or (even more awful) bone infection?

Disclaimer: Yes, this is the kind of stuff we talk about at lunch. No, this is not a solicitation for medical advice, especially since I'm not about to tell a coworker that I asked a bunch of anonymous people on the internet about his teeth.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-18-2010, 03:04 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Calgary, AB.
Posts: 47,791
I had that situation - my bottom wisdom teeth were out, and my upper ones were unopposed. I let them continue to grow out and down for awhile and the eventual extraction was quite easy. It really is hard to keep your teeth clean back there.

For the record, I had a dry socket with one of my wisdom teeth removals - it really isn't something you want to happen.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-18-2010, 03:41 PM
BetsQ BetsQ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Huh. My bottom wisdom teeth are unopposed. They've been that way for 20 years. They're a bit impacted, but I don't have any trouble flossing around them and they've never given me any trouble. The various dentists I've seen over the years have had mixed opinions about them.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-18-2010, 04:11 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Since the unopposed wisdom teeth are not serving any functional use, why not remove them?
They are not functional in that they cannot grind any food without the opposing molars.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-18-2010, 04:35 PM
Furious_Marmot Furious_Marmot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by barbitu8 View Post
Since the unopposed wisdom teeth are not serving any functional use, why not remove them?
They are not functional in that they cannot grind any food without the opposing molars.
Since the unopposed wisdom teeth are not causing any health problem (opinion seems to differ about this), why risk complications from a medical procedure?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-18-2010, 04:37 PM
Wheeljack Wheeljack is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
I've got unopposed wisdom teeth up top, and I'm glad I kept them--when I lost an adjacent molar, Mr. Bitey scooched right over into its space over a couple of years, replacing it perfectly. It fit so well that my dentist was all "Bwaaaaaa?! Your chart says I pulled that tooth."

Mr. Bitey, that's what I call it. Because of the biting.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-18-2010, 04:39 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,269
I have an impacted, unerupted wisdom tooth on the bottom right, and an unopposed wisdom tooth on the top right. Both have been there for nearly 40 years. Every time I go to the dentist, he says,"What do you want to do about that impacted wisdom tooth?" And I say, "When it gives me pain, I will have it removed." I think there is far to much wisdom tooth-yanking than is really necessary. But maybe I am the exception.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-18-2010, 07:00 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Furious_Marmot View Post
I know a guy with upper wisdom teeth, but no lower ones in opposition to them. They are fully erupted, apparently healthy, straight, and have been so for a decade. His dentist recommends extraction, on the presumption that they will continue growing and eventually impinge on the lower jaw, causing pain, gum loss, chewing problems, cats & dogs playing together, and possibly a hole in the ozone layer. Also, the doc claims wisdom teeth are hard to clean and will eventually have tooth decay problems.
Note that twice the dentist has said eventually... So wait until one of those does actually happen, and have them extracted then. If they aren't causing problems now, there is no problem with just waiting. Maybe they will never cause any problems. Maybe your friend will die from some other cause before then. Maybe many things could happen. Just wait, and do nothing now. His dentist is aware of them, and will notice a problem as soon as it starts to happen, and you can deal with it then.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-18-2010, 07:26 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Another thing to consider is they could start causing pain or problems when you are on vacation or some other place you don't want to interrupt.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-19-2010, 10:31 AM
butler1850 butler1850 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
If it does happen that the teeth start impacting their opposite, empty, gum, get the job done right away. The infection that comes from the repeated cutting of the gum isn't fun.

For me, it was easy, with no complications after I broke down and did the deed.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-19-2010, 10:46 AM
sandra_nz sandra_nz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
I'd like to thank my upper set of wisdom teeth for finally closing the gap between my two front teeth.

Thanks, upper wisdom teeth.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-19-2010, 01:15 PM
davekhps davekhps is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
I have three of my wisdom teeth. Both bottom ones came in partially, still there. My upper left one came in about fifteen years ago, as big as any molar can be. Five years after that, it cracked while I was brushing my teeth (!) and had to yanked out.

Strangely, the tooth on the upper right side has never come out. At all. Not even close. The dentist says it's not impacted, it's just up there, waiting, biding its time.

Personally, I'd like to get the bottom ones out. They're only partially exposed, the gum line covers enough of them to create food traps that I really don't enjoy having, and man, is flossing back that far a pain.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-19-2010, 01:53 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
If they are not causing any problem why go through the trouble at this time, it is possible that they never will.

ALSO

Some dental/medical research is using stem cells in wisdom teeth to grow other teeth that may have been removed one way or another. The article stated if you had your wisdom teeth removed you were basically SOL on this working for you if you need it and it becomes a viable treatment.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-19-2010, 02:09 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
If there's no problem leave them alone. If the tooth becomes a problem it will soon be evident and you can take care of it then. The idea of removing wisdom teeth that cause no issue is a way for the dentist to make money. If he persists, I'd find a new dentist. This one is out for money not your dental health.

None of my wisdom teeth have come in. My dentist was like "let's remove them." When I asked him why after 45 years on Earth , if they are not causing any issues should I remove them? He couldn't give me any real answer but, "Well what if." I told him "I'll deal with the "if" when "if" comes up.

Teeth don't grow constantly. So it's not like it's gonna keep growing and puncture the upper part of the mouth.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-19-2010, 03:30 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,926
I had all mine removed before they even came in, but that was because my dentist looked at my Xrays and said "those are going to be trouble, you don't have room, no way no how". He recommended removing them before they came in to avoid impaction/infection/etc., and because getting them out before they root is much easier. He didn't do the surgery, so it's not like he was making any money off of the procedure.

If I had some that had already grown in and weren't causing any problems, I'd leave 'em be until they did, if they did. I might pay more attention to symptoms, to get them out as soon as they started causing any problems, but that's about it.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03-19-2010, 04:30 PM
nivlac nivlac is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Golden State
Posts: 2,356
I don't believe in yanking anything out of my body if it's still healthy and may have some use. In my case, un upper wisdom tooth neatly slid over to fill a gap where a molar was extracted. And I do recommend a toothbrush that can reach all the way to the back of the wisdom tooth. Flossing is a bit tough but still doable.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.