Having wisdom teeth removed is often considered to be a rite of passage since most people tend to have it done in their late teens or early 20s. While this is normally when these teeth start to come in (and cause problems), the truth is that many wait until their 30s, 40s, or 50s to have their wisdom teeth extracted. Why is this the case? And is having a wisdom tooth extraction different when someone is older? Can you ever be too old for the procedure? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more below.
Why Wisdom Teeth May Come Out…Later
When the wisdom teeth start to erupt, they often press on the nearby teeth or become stuck (impacted), which can lead to a variety of problems like pain and an increased risk of cavities. Typically, a patient or a dentist will start to notice issues or see the early signs of them right away. This is why they tend to be removed when most people are 16-25 years old.
However, several factors can lead to this procedure being delayed. The first is the simplest: many patients don’t regularly go to the dentist. This means they don’t get X-rays that might show their wisdom teeth are in trouble, and they may not know that any oral soreness they are experiencing is due to them.
Also, the mouth consistently changes as we age. So, while the wisdom teeth might not be troublesome in someone’s 20s, alterations to the other teeth (like if some go missing) or the jawbone might cause them to become problematic later.
Another common situation is that a person is lucky enough that their wisdom teeth came in without any issue, but eventually, they become damaged or develop cavities. Like any other tooth, this can sometimes be so severe that the only solution is removal.
It’s Never Too Late
Fortunately, it’s impossible to “age out” of a wisdom tooth extraction. While the procedure might be a little more complicated the older you get (because the roots of the teeth become longer and more embedded in the jawbone over time), it can still be performed safely and offer the same benefits as if someone was 20-something.
All in all, getting a wisdom tooth extraction later than normal might mean that the recovery takes a little longer, and there may be some more soreness and swelling, but technology is on your side here. Anesthetic will make sure you remain comfortable in the chair, sedation is available at many offices to help you relax, and medication can ensure your recovery goes smoothly. In the hands of a skilled oral surgeon, the experience should be as carefree as if you were still in your 20s.
About the Author
Dr. Sheng Ji is uniquely qualified to perform wisdom tooth extractions even compared to fellow oral surgeons. After graduating from the UCSF School of Dentistry, he went on to complete his specialty training in oral surgery AND earn a medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern. This enables him to see the big picture and focus on the smallest details when treating a patient. If you think it’s finally time for your wisdom teeth to come out, you can request an appointment here or call (916) 961-1902.