Does Everyone Need Wisdom Teeth Removed?

When we talk about wisdom teeth, it’s often around the subject of removal. But what are wisdom teeth, and why are they so often removed? Named for their tendency to come through, or ‘erupt’, toward later adolescence or early adulthood, a wisdom tooth is a third molar, often emerging from the left and right sides of the upper and lower jaw, right at the back of the mouth. This area can be hard to access when cleaning, and often already has limited space before the wisdom teeth erupt. Most people will have four wisdom teeth, though some will have more, less, or none at all. Because of this, it’s important to make any decisions around tooth extraction in conjunction with a trusted dental practitioner, who can advise you on the best course of action for your specific circumstances. 

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Is Removal Always Necessary?

The short answer is ‘no’, and the long answer is ‘it depends’. There are a number of factors that need to be taken into account when determining whether removal is the right decision for you. Just because your wisdom teeth are not causing pain now, that doesn’t mean they won’t pose issues in the future. A lack of pain could actually be a sign that your wisdom teeth are impacted, meaning they are either partially or completely buried in your soft tissue or jawbone, preventing their eruption. In this situation, the buried teeth become very hard to clean, leading to an increased chance of disease, cysts, and even tumours. A qualified dental practitioner can provide informed advice on the status of these ‘hidden’ teeth by using X-Ray imaging to get a better picture of your situation. 

When Wisdom Teeth Need To Go 

There are a number of instances in which it is best practise to remove wisdom teeth as a preventative measure:

Misaligned Teeth

When wisdom teeth are impacted, or if they erupt into a mouth that is too small for them, the end result is often that the tooth becomes twisted or tilted as it tries to erupt, If your mouth is too small to accommodate the erupting wisdom teeth, or if they are growing at an angle, not removing them can cause damage to your jaw and surrounding teeth. 

Inflamed Gums

As well as damaging your jaw and existing teeth, impacted or improperly erupting wisdom teeth can cause sensitivity, swelling and inflammation to your gums. Swollen gums can lead to gum-line cavities between the tooth and the gum, which in turn accumulate bacteria and can lead to gum disease. 

Sinus Pain

The damage wisdom teeth can cause extends beyond just the mouth, with the pressure they produce also potentially causing sinus pain. This is due to the proximity of the nasal system, and can lead to ongoing sinus discomfort if the wisdom teeth are not removed.  

When Wisdom Teeth Can Stay 

There are two factors you need to take into account when making the decision to keep your wisdom teeth:

Have They Erupted Properly?

If you want to keep your wisdom teeth, it’s important that they are upright and functional. If they aren’t, you could experience jaw pain, pressure in the back of your mouth, sensitive or swollen gums, or crowding amongst your existing teeth. This latter point is of particular concern if you’ve already invested in orthodontic treatment to correct your teeth. 

Are You Committed To Their Hygiene? 

Because of their position at the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are often neglected in daily brushing and flossing routines. This can lead to significant problems because it allows food debris to build up, causing bacteria to accumulate and produce plaque. As a result, if you plan to keep your wisdom teeth, it is important to have a regular and rigorous dental hygiene routine that ensures their cleanliness. 

Generally speaking, wisdom teeth removal is considered prudent if the they are causing you problems, or if an X-Ray suggests that they will in the future. For the best advice, book a consultation with one of our dental professionals today to discuss what is best for you and your teeth.