How long can I wait before my wisdom teeth need to be removed?

I have a question about my wisdom teeth. I am 26 years old and have three wisdom teeth that are impacted. Two of them are on top and I have one on the bottom. The top two are already scheduled to be removed, but I’m wondering if I should just have the bottom one taken out at the same time? I’ve been told that the roots for the bottom wisdom tooth are past the nerve which means there is a possibility of nerve damage with the tooth extraction. He said I could just leave it alone until it begins to cause problems, have it removed, or just remove a portion of the tooth and leave the roots in place. But the last option means that there is a possibility for infection which they would then have to go back and get the roots later.

I’m trying to weigh out the pros and cons. I’m not sure if it’s just in my mind or not, but I feel like I’m starting to feel some pressure in that area. Or maybe it is just the general pain I’ve been experiencing from the top one. I really don’t want to have to endure two surgeries either. Any insight you may have would be awesome.

– Karie in California


The older you get, it becomes more difficult to remove the wisdom teeth. It is pretty standard practice to have any impacted wisdom teeth taken out while you are young, as it only becomes more complicated when you move into your adult years.

For example, you are still young enough that the risk for complication is minimal, whereas if you waited until you are 30 the risk will double and then at 35 the risk may double again, and so forth. Since it sounds like they are impacted, they will eventually give you trouble if they are left in place. The bone becomes harder and the roots can thicken which makes this procedure increasingly difficult the older you get.

Therefore, it is probably worth considering to go ahead and have them all taken care of as soon as possible. You don’t wait to wait until you are in more pain and have a dental emergency situation.

In regard to the suggestion to leave the root in place, that may be worth considering. That said, only the root tip should be left behind and not the whole root. The smaller the root, the body shouldn’t have complications. Although, it is very difficult to give specific recommendations without having seen your particular case. If you trust your dentist and are comfortable with his recommendations, it may be a judgement call on his part. Sometimes you don’t really know what you are dealing with until you are in there and a decision can be made during the surgery.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Do I really need a root canal?

I just went to the dentist for my first filling. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit anxious because he told me the filling was deep. When the drilling was going on I felt a sharp “zing” several times so he decided to give me another shot. That means I had a total of three shots. Although, the pain wasn’t really bad it just made me anticipate more pain. The dentist ended up leaving some of the decay and putting in a temporary filling and told me that I need a root canal. Do you think I really need to get a root canal or maybe they are over treating me because I felt some sharp pain?

– Jerry in Louisiana


Having to be told you need a root canal when you are only expecting a filling is a bit unnerving. The typical treatment plan when you need to have a filling is to get x-rays because the dentist can usually tell a lot from the x-ray. There is always a possibility that the x-ray may not reveal the need for a root canal and it can be discovered during the drilling. This is because the dentist may have had to do more drilling than what was first anticipated on the x-ray. What has likely happened to you is that during the drilling process the dentist realized that the decay has reached the pulp or nerve center of the tooth. This section is called the pulp chamber and it is also possible that you required more numbing shots because an infection may have already been starting. It is sometimes more difficult to numb the tooth when this happens.

Try not to stress about the root canal treatment. It is more complex than a filling and takes longer but is a routine treatment. There is nothing to be concerned about. Pretty much what is going to happen is that the decay will be removed and they will also remove the nerves inside the tooth root. Then the roots are sanitized and filled with some dental material. This process seals off the root section of the tooth. Then you will likely be prescribed an antibiotic to take care of the tooth infection. After the root canal treatment has been completed, you will need a dental crown. This will protect the tooth from any future breaking because there is no longer a blood flow to the tooth since the roots have been removed. The crown provides extra strength and protection.

If you are extremely anxious or nervous, you can ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. Oral sedation simply involves taking a pill before your appointment. Or if you want something stronger than Novocain but don’t want to be knocked out, you may be a candidate for nitrous oxide.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Unhappy with how my implant teeth look!

One year ago, I had dental implants placed. Apparently the laboratory had difficulties so I just recently received a dental bridge on both the top and the bottom. I think they look terrible. They are fake looking and out of proportion. My dentist feels differently and keeps telling me they look great and that I will get used to them. I am so disappointed and think it’s time to see a better cosmetic dentist. What do you think?

– Gina in Texas


An excellent cosmetic dentist would never tell you that you will just get used to them. This is because they are so passionate about how beautiful your smile looks that an expert cosmetic dentist settles for nothing less than perfection. In fact, many dentists will keep sending them back to the lab until the patient is completely satisfied.

Sorry that you had to experience this. I think you are right to visit and consult with a true cosmetic dentist at this point, especially since they are on your front teeth.

Best of luck to you.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Help, I need to get rid of this toothache!

My tooth is causing me so much pain. For the past few days the pain has been so terrible that it has made me vomit. It’s keeping me up at night too. The best way I can describe it is that it seems to radiate from my tooth, along my cheek, and over to my ear. I called the dentist but they can’t get me in for several weeks. Do you have any advice?

– Paul in Arizona


Sorry to hear you are in so much pain. You shouldn’t have to suffer. There are many emergency dentists out there that can help you. So if your dentist can’t see you right away, you may want to call around. Many dentists build their practice around being available for emergencies and often can get you in the same day you call.

A toothache is often an indicator of a more serious problem. It could be a tooth infection, in which case you will need to have a root canal treatment. The sooner you get into the dentist, increases that chances that your tooth can be saved. Most dentists will do whatever they can to save a tooth so it does not need to be extracted.

If it is passed the point of saving, a dental implant is the best solution to replace a missing tooth. It not only looks and feels like your natural tooth, it functions just like it.

So don’t delay! Get into a dentist as soon as possible so you don’t have to deal with the agonizing pain any longer.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.