Why Seniors Could Benefit From Wisdom Tooth Removal

Dentist Blog

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are often removed in young adulthood if these teeth are impacted, showing signs of infection, or crowding/damaging adjacent teeth. While it's less common for seniors to undergo a wisdom teeth extraction, there are cases where it may be a good idea. One Dentistry IQ article reported that over 40% of adults who've never had their wisdom teeth removed tended to develop decay, gum disease, or infection by the time they were forty-five. Read on to learn more about the benefits of extraction and what this surgery entails for seniors.

What Scenarios Could Warrant Wisdom Tooth Removal for Seniors?

Early humans may have had diets and broader jaws that could support third molars, but these teeth are often removed because they simply don't fit along the alveolar ridge. Some people are fortunate that their jawbone can support third molars so that they don't have to have surgery. However, as a person ages, he or she can be more prone to bone resorption; one study found osteoporosis could cause decreased thickness in the jawbone. If your jawbone shrinks with age, then the wisdom tooth may shift and cause pain or crowd nearby teeth.

In the previously mentioned Dentistry IQ article, researchers also reported a 20-year study on patients with broken jaws; researchers found that more than half of these people fractured their lower jaw in the area by unerupted wisdom teeth. In short, if your jawbone has weakened with age and cannot handle occlusal impacts on the third molar, extraction could be a good option.

Besides bone resorption causing the need for an extraction, some patients with predispositions to gum disease—or current gum disease—may need to have their wisdom teeth removed to improve their health. Seniors are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from periodontal disease in the area between the wisdom tooth and second molar. Periodontal disease is a serious condition that can lead to bone loss, decay, and inflammation throughout the body. If you are having a hard time thoroughly brushing and flossing around the third molar, your dentist might recommend an extraction.

What Is an Extraction Like for Seniors?

The reason that extraction is ideal for young adults is that the third molar may still be erupting, and it may not sit securely in the jawbone. In seniors, the third molar will have an established, secure root, so extraction may be more involved. Instead of needing just a local anesthetic, your dentist may need you to be under deeper sedation since the procedure will take longer. Like any oral surgery, there are risks such as bleeding or infection, but if your wisdom tooth is already causing gum irritation, pain, swelling, etc., then the benefits may outweigh the risks. Plus, your dentist can go over aftercare instructions, like what to eat and how to manage a dry socket. It's important to follow aftercare instructions to mitigate complications and encourage a swift recovery.

Reach out to a dentist today to learn more about wisdom teeth removal


27 July 2022