Wisdom teeth risks

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 31st, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Gum disease isn’t just for the young at heart. New research indicates young adults who have their wisdom teeth run a higher risk of developing periodontal disease.

In a recent study of more than two-hundred patients in their twenties who kept their wisdom teeth, sixty percent had signs of early gum disease, with little or no symptoms.

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria grow in pockets between teeth and gums, and their toxic products cause inflammation that destroys tissues supporting teeth. Left untreated, the condition can lead to tooth loss. Because they are hard to keep clean, wisdom teeth are especially vulnerable.

Periodontal disease is a chronic infection, and research has linked it with health problems such as heart disease and diabetes complications.

Pregnant women are especially susceptible. Studies have determined that expecting moms who have their wisdom teeth and had the worst signs of gum disease are twice as likely to give birth prematurely.

According to the American Dental Association, wisdom teeth can be an asset if they are aligned correctly and are healthy. Extractions are only recommended if the wisdom teeth have partially erupted… which could leave an opening for bacteria to enter… or if any cyst has formed or if the molars are misaligned and risk damaging other teeth.

Experts recommend it’s wise to have your wisdom teeth checked before age twenty-five or if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. The old adage “out of sight out of mind” need not apply to those hidden molars.